Content marketing is one of the most effective ways to let people know about what your business does, and if you go about it properly, it can boost your business reputation at the same time. It takes effort but can produce impressive results. What does it involve?
Simply put, content marketing is the creation or curation of content that your target customers find useful, published and promoted so that they can find it easily, and designed to attract new customers and keep existing customers coming back for more.
Let’s look at those points one by one.
- You can produce your own content, commission content, use copyright-free content that you’ve found, or get permission to republish content you like. This doesn’t just mean writing – it could also mean infographics, pictures, videos or audio material.
- You can publish your content on a blog or offer it for syndication on sites popular with your target customers that will direct them back to your site. You can also use it on social media (in suitably sized chunks), and you can use social media, mailing lists and other traditional marketing channels to promote it.
- Your content is not a product in itself – it is a resource. It needs to be attractive and valuable to customers in its own right. It is something that you are giving away in order to build a relationship with them.
Content marketing is a descendent of the newspaper advertorial, but these days, it is found almost exclusively online. By using it online, you can sharply reduce the time required to convert a reader into a paying customer.
Why choose content marketing?
When you compare modern approaches to marketing with traditional ones, most online advertising is like putting up billboards in good locations and hoping for the best. Content marketing is like starting conversations with people who already have related interests. It creates a sense of ongoing connection that gives people a personal reason to choose your products or services.
If you think about the traditional adverts you see, both online and off, only a handful of them get people talking. By contrast, people are always happy to talk about good articles that they’ve read, especially when they feel that personal connection. Content marketing material is easy to share, so you don’t have to do all the promotion by yourself – if you produce something valuable, your customers will help.
Content marketing resources take a while to build up, but once they’re in place, they’ll keep on being useful to you for as long as people remain interested in reading about those subjects. They will become a business resource that keeps on giving.
What kind of content do I need?
The content you need depends on who your target customers are, and what message you want to send about your business.
To appeal to customers, your content could do one or more of the following things:
- Inform. Let readers know the latest news about your sector, provide useful how-to guides on related subjects, or answer reader questions. Publish in-depth features on interesting aspects of the industry, or run reader polls and share the results.
- Entertain. Publish content designed to make your readers laugh or smile. Let them know the latest gossip, and focus on the lighter aspects of life.
- Inspire. Help your readers find new perspectives on issues they thought they understood. Make them feel good about themselves and about what they can achieve. Encourage them to share their stories.
- Provoke. Although you don’t want to push customers out of their comfort zone, starting debates can be a great way to get them commenting so that they develop an interactive relationship with your blog.
You might want people to think of your business as one or more of the following:
- Authoritative. Don’t just tell people that you’re an expert in your field – show them. Use your content to demonstrate that you know what you’re talking about so that you’re the first place that they look for advice.
- Approachable. Give your content a personal touch that makes people feel they’re really getting to know you, and be warm and friendly so that they feel confident that they will have a good customer experience if they buy from you.
- Trustworthy. By providing practical, reliable advice, posting new content on a regular schedule and letting readers get to know you over time, you can build up trusted brand status and make people feel confident about dealing with you.
- Fun. Everybody likes to have fun, and younger demographics, in particular, respond well to content that suggests that you share their social interests and sense of humour.
What can I expect from content marketing?
Content marketing won’t get big results straight away. It won’t immediately attract more people to your site – you will need to promote it elsewhere.
Content marketing will help you build a brand. It will improve your place in search engine rankings, and over time, more and more people will come to your site directly to look for your latest posts. It will give customers a deeper sense of who you are than traditional adverts do, and they will feel more loyalty towards you as a result. It will make customers feel that you really care about what you do, helping you to stand out from the competition.
Good content marketing requires skill and will take practice, even if you are just thinking about what to commission and not actually writing it yourself. Once you find your feet, however, you’ll find it a very effective way to get your business noticed, increase traffic to your site, boost your reputation within your industry and build the customer relationships you want.