Content marketing is quickly becoming the new hot thing. Marketers love it — and for good reason: it works.
Despite all the excitement, we feel there’s not enough conversation about what it actually is and how it impacts businesses. Like yours.
What Content Marketing Looks Like
Say you own a ketchup company. Traditional marketing would involve things like running TV spots, buying print ads, and sponsoring events — all with the purpose of talking about how great your ketchup is.
Content marketing, on the other hand, might be a blog with articles on eating healthier or a series of videos featuring famous chefs. This content wouldn’t be about you; it would only mention your name, show your logo, or somehow associate itself with you. But it wouldn’t ever talk about how great your ketchup is.
With traditional marketing, you push your brand out there. With content marketing, you get people’s attention and guide them toward your brand.
On the surface, this may seem backward and frivolous. How can you sell product without talking about it? How does content marketing actually help your company?
Let’s dive a little deeper.
Content Marketing Dissected
“Content marketing is a pull strategy focused on bringing valuable content to your audience, often without directly plugging your product or business, and linking engagement to a business goal.”
A pull strategy: People are incredibly sick of conventional marketing. Rather than cramming copy down people’s throats, content marketing publishes stuff that consumers want — and choose — to engage with. Because they found you, they’re much more receptive.
Valuable content: Value could mean many things, but we’ll leave it at this: it makes life better. After someone consumes your content, are they better off for it? Did you educate or entertain them? Give them a new mindset? If your content is truly valuable, engagement will follow.
Without directly plugging: As soon as people realize they are being marketed to, they shut down. Because traditional marketing has no real value, it’s trained us to shun it. Being truly valuable means putting your brand second and focusing on providing value first. This is probably the most important aspect of successful content marketing.
A business goal: You’d think this would be pretty obvious, but too many marketers are missing it. What will your content eventually accomplish? Do you want to build an audience of email subscribers? Change the way people think about your brand? Create more inbound traffic through topical blog articles (guilty as charged)? Content marketing might not be as directed toward purchase as traditional methods, but it does need to tie to your sales funnel.
So that’s what it is. Now how can it help?
The Benefits of Content Marketing
Content marketing can say volumes about your company
Because you aren’t obligated to focus all your messaging on your product like traditional ads, content gives you more freedom to develop stories. It’s an opportunity to build credibility or associate your brand with positive emotions in ways that weren’t possible before.
Content marketing creates a willing audience
Rather than paying for engagement (like a TV commercial), content marketing seeks to earn it. This is powerful. If you are producing genuinely valuable content, people will continue to come back for more, growing your platform. Most importantly, engagement builds trust, and even your more traditional marketing will be met with less cynicism.
Content marketing creates long term assets
Traditional ads have a short, finite lifespan. If you buy a TV ad, you literally have to pay for every minute it is on the air. And then it’s gone. Digital content, on the other hand, can stay around indefinitely.
Content marketing creates new pathways to your brand
Have videos on your YouTube channel? Then you can link YouTube viewers to your site. Does your site have a blog? Each entry gets indexed on Google, helping you get discovered through search results. Simply put, more content means more roads to you.
Content marketing won’t solve everything
We think content marketing is great, but that doesn’t mean traditional marketing is dead. At some point you need to talk about your product. The best content marketing is designed to be a complement to your overall marketing strategy.
Written by Joe Lee, Content Marketing Specialist
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