As it turns out, “content” is much more than just a Millennial marketer’s buzzword. In fact, it’s arguably the best long-term marketing strategy around. Content marketing is an increasingly popular tactic for small and large businesses alike. However, it’s particularly well suited to small businesses because it doesn’t require a huge financial investment to achieve great results.
Digital advertising, for example, is very expensive and can require a lot of technical knowledge. Content isn’t and doesn’t. To succeed in this game, you simply need to know what your ideal customers’ challenges and goals are, then consistently address them in an informative, engaging way.
We’ve put together a 2-part series on this topic because it’s just too darn meaty to cover all in one go (and to be honest, two is still pushing it!). Part 1 will give you some background on the “what” and the “why” of content marketing. Next, we’ll be following up with practical tips on the “how”. So, without further ado, let’s get stuck in…
What is content marketing?
When marketers talk about “content,” what they really mean is blog posts, guides, white papers, videos, webinars, emails, social media posts, case studies, and more. Essentially, it’s words – written or spoken.
A content marketing strategy is much less about the “hard sell” and much more about “adding value” by providing helpful information that solves your ideal customers’ problems.
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.Content Marketing Institute
What content marketing isn’t: an excuse to brag about your amazing brand, products or services. There’s a time and a place for the sell, but this definitely ain’t it. This is your golden opportunity to “woo” and win over your ideal customers by talking about things they truly care about.
Why is content marketing so effective?
You’re probably thinking, “Content, schmontent… ain’t nobody got time for that!” but unfortunately (or, fortunately, as you’ll soon see), traditional marketing is becoming less and less effective.
Why? For a start, traditional marketing methods are temporary. Once the TV show is over, there are no more eyes on your advert. Content marketing, which lives on the internet, stays accessible and evergreen.
Traditional marketing is also very broad-sweeping and often lacks the personalization and targeting that can be achieved by writing for your brand’s specific buyer personas (semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers). Let’s face it – people like to feel special, and if you write with the intention of helping them, specifically, then your message is much more likely to resonate and drive action.
Further, it’s very difficult to track the performance of offline marketing whereas you can look at a frankly terrifying number of online metrics such as page traffic, conversion rates, open/click rates, and much more.
Consumers also have access to more than just mainstream media nowadays. They expect brands to educate and inspire them through engaging, timely and relevant content at multiple touch points along their complex buyer journeys.
The biggest benefits of content marketing
It generates loyalty. If you commit to consistently providing value, your customers will become brand advocates – consuming and sharing your message with friends, family and the rest of the internet world.
Google likes it! A search engine’s goal is to provide users with the best possible experience to keep them coming back for more. This means serving up high quality, informative content first.
It drives sales. Content marketing has the ability to connect with people across all stages of the buyer’s journey – not just when they’re ready to splash the cash. This means you can build a relationship and make sure you’re the “go-to” at that pivotal moment.
It doesn’t irritate people. A lot of advertising is intrusive and feels like it’s invading people’s space (hence the “skip” button on YouTube) but high-value content is something that people intentionally seek out in order to consume – a totally different dynamic.
It builds authority. You can become a trusted and well-respected leader in your space by consistently educating people with thought-provoking guides, trends, best practices, innovative tools, and industry tips.
It provides compounding ROI (return on investment). That article you wrote two years ago will keep driving traffic and delivering leads for your business for many moons after it was first written. This means your efforts are not short-lived and temporary, like many other forms of marketing activity.
It builds brand awareness… and your social media following. Revel as your brand starts to get shared and talked about in endless pockets of the internet.
It takes the pressure off your sales and customer service teams. These teams are your best sources of #inspo for creating powerful blog posts. Ask them about commonly asked questions and turn these into articles. This will not only deliver value for your customers but also reduce the number of queries your sales and customers service teams receive.
…and the list goes on! But we’ll leave it there for now.
Why should your small business invest in content marketing?
Besides all the juicy points above, one thing we wanted to remind you is that you’re already a content marketer. If you own a business with some kind of online presence and you already engage in conversations about your industry, then you’re more than halfway there. All you need now is some planning and direction – a strategy. That’s what part two of this series is here to help you do. Once you harness content marketing, you’ll be able to showcase your small business’ personality, establish your USP (unique selling proposition), build relationships and get more bang for your marketing buck.
In the next article, we share practical ways your business can start leveraging content marketing today by outlining key steps, tips ‘n’ tricks plus some common mistakes to avoid.