A client once told me that he didn’t want content marketing to be a big part of his marketing plan because it was “fluff”. I can understand how people who have been around business a little longer than I have could think this way, but let me tell you a little bit about why content marketing is becoming more important all the time, and what you can do to really make it work for you.
First of all, it’s important to define what the term ‘content marketing’ means. According to the Content Marketing Institute, “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” In other words, it’s content that is designed to educate consumers towards a buying decision. That’s pretty important, because consumers do a lot of research before making a buying decision these days and you want to make sure that your voice is heard among your competitors’.
So if you put content marketing out into cyberspace, who’s going to actually view it? According to research conducted by pwc, 80% of consumers said that they researched a product online before contacting the company or going to a store to buy it. That means consumers are already pretty aware of their options before they set foot in your store, but that’s only possible if you’re giving them the right information in the online research phase of buying. So, if 80% of your market is researching your products and services online before even thinking of contacting you, how do you make sure you’re taking advantage of that opportunity?
- Start by recognizing that you are an expert on your product or service (because you are, aren’t you?) and that qualifies you to help others learn about it. Take note of the questions you get asked on a regular basis or the topics you think your market should know about before buying your product. These topics are a great place to start your content marketing journey.
- Be honest with yourself about where you skills end and where it’s best to hire help. A lot of companies that could benefit from content marketing don’t venture into it because they don’t have anyone on staff that’s comfortable with gathering data, writing blog posts/email newsletters and pulling it all together with great design. That’s ok, there are content marketers/writers out there ready to take your point form notes and turn them into a content marketing masterpiece.
- Decide what platforms you will use to get the information out there. Sometimes it’s as simple as including a couple of informational pages on your website, but could also include creating case studies and white papers, maintaining a blog, sending a periodic email newsletter and engaging with peers and consumers on social media.
- Create a content marketing strategy, and then stick to it. According to additional research from the Content Marketing Institute, the companies that are most successful with content marketing a) have a documented strategy in place, and b) have a person assigned to overseeing the strategy. This makes a lot of sense, because someone needs to be invested in seeing a strategy work in order for it to be successful.
- Content marketing is not a miracle cure for your marketing woes and won’t solve all your problems overnight. Don’t get discouraged if your traffic and sales don’t skyrocket overnight, because content marketing is a long-term game. You may not see great results until people (and search engines) start really seeing you as an expert in your industry based on the content you are sharing, so give them some time to figure that out.
What once may have been considered “fluff” is now an essential part of a marketing plan for any company that wants to attract consumers through the internet. And really, who doesn’t want to do that? So stop dawdling and get to work on a content marketing strategy that will appeal to both savvy consumers looking for information and the search engines that help them find it.
If you’d like help getting your content marketing strategy off the ground, give us a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org.