I’m sure by now you’ve heard the saying “Content is King”. It’s been spouted in one form or another everywhere from academic research to social media personalities.
But just what is content marketing? and why should you definitely integrate it into your marketing strategy?
Content marketing when you take away all the fluff that goes with it is an opportunity for your business.
It is a tool that can be used for any number of things, but can be particularly beneficial in growing your business. As businesses struggle to achieve growth within challenging business environments, we are seeing a huge shift in interest and budget allocation to content marketing as an increasing method of promtion.
There are some quick takeaways:
- Content marketing gives you an opportunity to reach and convert new customers to your company/ brand.
- Content marketing can drive measurable results and ROI over more traditional marketing and promotional tactics.
- Content marketing lets you to build meaningful and lasting relationships that enhances custoemr perception of your company or brand.
- Content marketing focuses on an organisation telling their brand stories that then resonate with their target audience.
So What Is Content Marketing Really?
Content marketing is the term given to the process of consistently publishing content that the audience wants to consume. This involves brands acting increasingly like publishers and creating content on an owned media platform that attract visitors (e.g. your website or social media profile).
Content marketing unlike content is focused on the customer and aims to solve their important questions and meet their needs and chellenges.
This approach then creates a financial asset, it allows your business to reach, engage and convert customers into using your product or services. You do this by using the keywords that your customers are searching for and ceating content that solves pain points that they might have with the products.
Content marketing closes the gap between what the audience wants and what the brand produces and leads to a measurable business value.
While that might sound like advertising, I assure you it isn’t (more on that further on).
What makes content marketing different to other forms of marketing is the time frame that it is spread over.
It allows any business to increase their presense in organice search engine results because it is focused on sharing thought leadership and helps to position your brand as a go to place to get answers. By using SEO and content insight as critical components, content marketing is becoming increasingly more aligned with the needs of the customer.
However, as with anything in marketing, for content markteing to work, it has to be well-executed. That includes developing a content strategy.
Successful content marketers align themselves to a content calender. A 12 month layout of their content ideas that are based of solid data, then that plan is executed and optimised on a regular basis.
For many companies, content is only ever released when requested by executives, these random pieces of content often don’t support strategice goals and will often produce very little in the form of business results.
What Isn’t Content Marketing
Now we’ve covered what content marketing is. It is improtant to cleraly understand what it isn’t.
With this in mind content marketing is more than just pieces of content – a random blog post on your website, social media posts, videos, landing pages, email, etc. and hoping something sticks.
This “throw enough s**t at the wall and see what sticks” approach is what many companies do, that’s why their social media feeds are often misaligned with their website.
It isn’t just more “stuff”
This is where a lot of brands go very wrong, very quickly. They fail to get the strategy part right first. Simply choosing to unleash content campaign after content campaign without understanding the direction of where is should take them or and understanding of who the content is for.
Without the strategy in place, you may just end up with a promotional video that looks more like a promo ad for your business than content. Regardless of how high quality the video production is, a promo video isn’t a useul piece of content that is designed to resonate with a target audience at a specific stage of the buyer journey.
A blog alone isn’t a content marketing strategy
When you think of content you might automatically think of a blog. And while this is a large part of content marketing, simply having and using a blog does not make you a content marketer.
It’s just one part of the recipe, but not the only ingredient. Content marketing is about providing information, which can happen in many formats and channels, as long as it is useful to its intended target.
Once company blogs are structured like publishers – with 3-5 key themes and a consistent schedule – can they be considered the key delivery mechanism of your content marketing.
Content goes far beyond blog posts, in fact it goes beyond the digital world. Content is information. What differentiates information and content is that content is for a specific audience, for a specific purpose.
Simply having a blog as your content marketing activity is like trying to bake a cake and only having eggs. It’s not going to work.
It’s not a commercial
Another mistake that many companies makes is that they think that they can just put out any information with no direction and that it will work. This results in them reverting back to the old ideas of advertising.
If you are going to use video then it should explain how your product or service makes a customers life easier rather than just the features of the product. That is sure to put them to sleep and not engage them at all, basically just throwing your money down the toilet.
It’s not about posting on social media
Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok, (enter social media name here). They all have one thing in common. You don’t own them. And while these platforms can be massively beneficial to your business by letting you share your content and distributing your thought leadership, simply posting on social media in itself is not content marketing.
The value in social media is being able to bring people to back to your website. The social media platforms and more specifically their algorithms decides who sees your content. That is unless you pay them to target specific people. Then it is just advertising
Consider social media an effective platform for distribution in your content marketing strategy.
It’s not pay for play
Content marketing isn’t paid.
With content marketing, you own the distribution channels, from your website to your social media profiles to your email list.
You get to decide how you will write the story and build the relationships with your target audience.
Advertising on the other hand is pay for play. You don’t really control where it will appear or who will see it, regardless of how closely your targeting is. You are simply handing over your hard earned money to a third party and renting space.
It’s not meaningless
Think about this. What problem does your Facebook ad solve? How has your company’s last AdWords campaign made a positive difference to your customers?
Content is supposed to solve a problem. It’s this genuine intent to help your customers that offers the authenticity that consumers are attracted to. Take this one step further, from providing value to your buyer to providing value to society, and you have landed on the future of content marketing- purpose driven brands.
It’s not rented space
Where content stands out is when a brands owns the distribution channel. The website, the in-person events, social media profiles, the eBook series.
Advertising on the other hand, is rented spaced. You have to constantly purchase space on a media channel in order to reach your audience, most of the time you will be bidding directly with your competition.
Why Content Marketing Matters (and Always Has)
You may be rethinking your content right now. Big changes have disrupted basically every industry. Content marketing isn’t new. It’s been gain prominence for around the last decade or so and its acceptance as a critical strategy is fortified. This is especially true when compared to the perceived failures of traditional marketing, which is now ignored more than watched.
Now, the playing field is more level that it has been before because a company doesn’t have to spend millions on ads to get noticed. They can use content marketing to build a community and deliver a new spin on both old and new problems experienced by their audience.
Content marketing matters to your business because it matters to your audience. They might not say it verbally, but the statistics and data about how much content buyers consume is undeniable. Nobody wants to be sold to. They want to be informed and engaged, they react much more to a story that shows them how to solve their problems rather than a dry and disjointed approach that plays on fear.
Get this: Buyers are still craving valuable content.
No matter where most companies started this year, they are most definitely in a new and unique positions now. They may have the same problems, or new ones. Either way, their customers still need direction and help. Your brand can offer this with content that looks at where your customers are right now and serve content that brings them solutions.
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