Content marketing has been used for hundreds of years. In fact, it’s a concept that you can’t “unsee” once you’ve been introduced to it. That is to say, once you’ve read this article, and perhaps started to dabble in a little content marketing yourself, you’ll start to see it everywhere. And that’s a very good thing: after all, as marketers, we often need a little inspiration.
So what is it? How does it work? You’re familiar with the concept of “content”, of course, and marketing… well, that’s why we’re all here, right? But put the two together, and things get a little esoteric. Let’s take a closer look at the concept of content marketing, along with how it works, and a few examples of ways you might be able to integrate it into your overall strategy.
Defining Content Marketing
Content marketing, at its core, is a technique in which you create and publish content to draw in readers within your target market for the purpose of creating a conversion or sale.
You might be thinking that you are well aware at this point that “content is king”, since it’s plastered all over nearly every article that even mentions the concept. And you are correct. But content marketing takes this idea one step further.
The ultimate goal of content marketing is that you are creating something that isn’t about your brand. It’s not about your products or services, or even about your niche, specifically. Content marketing looks at what your audience wants to read about. In fact, let’s go so far as to say that your audience is specifically searching for this type of information.
You might be a bit boggled right now, and that’s normal. After all, we did promise it would get a little esoteric! Let’s take a look at a few examples.
Have you ever watched a commercial on television that was so impactful to you that you looked it up online to share with friends and family later? Whether it was funny, touching, or you just liked the detail that was put into producing the message, something about that commercial was valuable to you, and you wanted to watch it again.
You searched it out, and purposefully shared it so others could understand your interest in that commercial. That’s an example of successful content marketing.
Perhaps you have a hobby or sport that you participate in regularly. When you flip through publications related to your hobby, do you find yourself pausing to take in the advertisements first, then read articles later? That’s another example of successful content marketing.
Content marketing can boost your brand from “just another option” to a beloved, recommended product or service, simply by providing information that your audience values on a personal level.
What Does Content Marketing Do?
In order to appropriately gauge what content marketing can do for you, think about the typical sales process. Customers enter the process by realizing they have a problem for which they need a solution. They do some research, and they discover your product or service as a possible solution to their problem. Then they think about it.
They weigh their options, look around, ask their friends, and gauge value. Finally, they make their selection and buy.
When executed correctly, content marketing will let customers know that they have a problem and that your product is the ultimate solution, all in one handy location.
In direct sales, there’s often the process of finding potential leads, coaxing them into wanting to learn more, schmoozing them, educating them, and eventually persuading them to buy. When you have a solid content marketing plan, the awareness and education is taken care of for you.
The Key to Success
Think back to that commercial or advertisement that caught your eye. By the time you finished watching it or reading it, you were pretty much an expert on the item being advertised, whether or not you actually wanted to purchase it in the first place. That’s the goal of content marketing: to create so much value via content that the audience is immediately able to recognize the need for the product, the problem and the solution that are addressed by the product, all in a way that touches them personally.
In many articles, we’ve mentioned the need for becoming an authority in your niche in order to gain an audience and even improve SEO. Content marketing is one way to become a credible resource on the topics that are intensely meaningful for your target market.
Creating this content won’t happen overnight. You’ll need to know what types of questions people are asking within your niche; what kinds of problems affect them personally, and what type of solutions they’re looking for. You can learn this through targeted Google searching. You can also ask them directly, through newsletters, through forms, or through social media.
How Do I Get My Content Out There?
One key element to successful content marketing is that it is easy to understand and digest, and can be shared quickly. You want your audience to share your content, because that increases your exposure (and also your SEO!).
Therefore, the top types of content marketing focus on information that can be spread easily. The first – and perhaps easiest – option is blogging. You can use your blog to both ask and answer questions from your audience, helping you tap deeper and deeper into their needs. You can check out our previous article on blogging for ideas and guidance to keep your site fresh and interesting.
You can also create infographics to stimulate your audience. Infographics are visuals, usually charts, graphs, or pictures, that use statistics and pictures to tell a story. Podcasts are another option for content marketers to get their details out there. At-home recording software and microphones are pretty accessible and inexpensive these days, which makes starting a podcast easier than ever.
Videos are another great way to market, as well. You don’t even have to get out of your pyjamas to record and distribute a video, as long as you have interesting and entertaining visuals!
Also, guest posting, self-published books and eBooks are another great example of content marketing. Not only do books give you the opportunity to distribute your interesting, educational, entertaining content to unlimited readers, but you can insert the line “author of” into your biography on your own site, or when contributing to others’ sites! That’s an automatic vote for your authority on the topic!
Final Considerations and Video
By now, your inner wheels should be churning a bit on the topic of content marketing. You might find yourself revisiting blogs, books, articles, and even YouTube videos of ads or marketing campaigns that you’ve really admired.
From there, consider what value they bring to you, and think about how you can replicate that sense of value in the content you create. Whether you choose to use humor to be familiar, emotional content to be sympathetic to your audience, or strictly information that they need – and want – to know, content marketing is a significant way to gain trust and sales by being the relatable authority they need to solve their problems.