Understanding Content Marketing
What is Content Marketing?
“Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” – Content Marketing Institute
So instead of directly selling your product or service, you’re building relationships by informing and educating your customer base. Traditional marketing (radio, tv, newspaper and billboard ads) are becoming less effective since so many are “tuning it out” or exhausted with the in-your-face sales tactics. People want to spend time learning, gathering information or being entertained rather than hearing or reading a sales pitch.
Examples of Successful Content Marketing
Content Marketing is not new; Brands of all shapes and sizes have been telling their stories for many years through documentaries, books, magazines, and in the recent decades on their websites, social media networks, blogs, videos and podcasts.
- Starbucks sets an sterling example of creative content marketing ideas. Through their online community, mystarbucksidea.com, they promote relationship building with its customers. With 3 million visitors and 60,000 ideas from customers, “we used to launch a new product and it cost millions of dollars. Now, when we launch a new product, we already have millions of fans,” say Chris Bruzzo, Vice President Brand, Content and Online at Starbucks. On their Instagram profile, they daily post the most unique Starbucks locations, artwork, customers’ photos, and yes sometimes their seasonal coffee drinks specials. They also recently provided an instructional brochure on how to brew a perfect cup of coffee at home; also, they blog, use social media, post engaging videos on their YouTube channel, including their latest about the Starbucks College Achievement Plan.
- Guitar Center provides innovative, fun and unique videos on their YouTube channel that engages their target audience via the music. They also provide free music classes via their sister site, musicmentor.guitarcenter.com, with a monthly calendar of free online workshops that focus on drums, guitars, singing, songwriting, lighting and even recording for a garage band. Their website also offers a forum for discussion for novices to music professionals.
- Good Foods Coop is a locally owned and operated cooperative business where they sell natural and organic produce from Kentucky and beyond. Their blog features recipes with creative, healthy meals with ingredients that are sold at their Lexington KY store, as well as recipes that focus on specific food allergies. They are active on Facebook and Twitter with at least 3-4 posts a day featuring recipes, exclusive specials, staff photos, and featured art and music shows at their Cafe. Their Youtube channel features cooking demonstrations, education on specific food items, and their community outreach efforts.
Content Marketing Strategies
Find ways to reach that target audience with content that they find interesting and valuable enough to take time out of their busy schedules to read, like, share, comment on and revisit.
Choose your Platform(s). Before you begin, take time to plan out how you will reach them. What platform will you use to create that company voice? Depending on your industry and your target audience, here are a few of the ways to reach out with quality content marketing:
- Blogs, Videos, Podcasts, Social Media, Website, Email Marketing, Magazines, Books, Infographics, Powerpoint presentations, Classes & Workshops.
Make it Portable. With the increase of a mobile audience, that some say will be larger than desktop by 2015, Mobile-Friendly content is imperative. Make sure the posts are not too wordy, easy to read with images that are original and impressive, on a responsive platform.
Write it. Take time to write engaging and original content. You, as the business owner, know your brand better than anyone so its best you either write your own content or have an active part in the generation process. Write content that answers your customers FAQ’s, that makes them laugh, that teaches them something new, that may inspire them to learn more about your products or services without a hard sell approach. Let your personality shine through as well as your sense of humor. Show that you care about your customers. Motivate them. Inspire them. Make them feel good. Be positive, neutral on controversial subjects and be credible with accurate information.
No Shortcuts. There are no shortcuts to great content. Many companies are trying to find ways to automate the process with buying content or hiring outside firms to manage their content. But before you adopt these services, make sure you and your contractors understand the following:
- Your Brand: the image, reputation and personality that you are striving for.
- Your Audience: the demographics of your target audience, their interests, and where they collect information.
- Your Budget: the amount of time and money your small business can realistically spend on effective content marketing.
Share it. Creating great content is on the first step, albeit an imperative and vital one. The second part to that strategy is getting the content out there through viable avenues to reach your audience. Make sure you investigate where different types of media should be published. Do not ignore Google+ as many predict an increase in readership in the future, as well as its benefits for your SEO over other social media platforms. And utilize your already loyal customer base initially publicize your content through social media, blog subscribers and email marketing.
Analyze it. Your content marketing strategy will evolve and need regular (monthly) monitoring. You will see what works and what doesn’t, what gets the most comments, likes, shares and customer reaction. Then focus on those and similar topics to further engage your audience. It will be a learning process not only of your own brand but of your customers’ likes and dislikes.
Although content marketing is time-consuming and more labor intensive than other more traditional marketing, it is a growing trend that cannot be ignored and will provide new ways to connect with users and generate more sales.