If someone knocks on your door and says, “Hi, I want to talk to you about content marketing,” do you know what they’re talking about? I remember when “content marketing” first became a buzzword, and I found it rather confusing myself. Isn’t all marketing based on content? The copy in an ad is copy, just like the copy on a website is content. So what are we talking about, and why are we talking about it like it’s new?
First, you have to understand that content marketing falls under the inbound marketing umbrella. That means that instead of pushing your message into areas where people are trying to digest other stuff (your ad in a magazine, for example), you invite people to come to your website or your social media outposts because you are providing good information. They are compelled to read what you have to say, and if you provide information that is good enough, they may even let you have their email address, which of course is marketing gold.
Second, you have to make peace with the fact that content marketing is often either very slightly promotional or not promotional at all. I know. A lot of our contacts wrinkle their noses when we say that. The conversation goes something like this: “You want me to pay x dollars so that I can provide content that doesn’t mention me at all?” Well, not exactly. Usually your company name appears somewhere, and usually there is a byline with a link to your website. However, yes, the point is to inform your potential customers, not to sell them on your products or services.
Now, what kinds of content can you create that fall into this category? It turns out you have a lot of options. Among some of the most popular are:
• Blog Posts
• White Papers
• Articles targeted to publications in your industry
You can also classify case studies as part of this family of content, but the temptation to toot your own horn as a problem solver needs to be avoided.
What’s the Value?
Are you still not sold? Are you still thinking, “Why do I want to spend time I don’t have on creating content that won’t translate into a sale?” Well, a lot of the theory behind content marketing is that by sending out really good information on a regular basis, you become a known entity and even more than that, a trusted resource. Let’s say, for example, that you manufacture washing machines. Every week you publish a blog post with helpful laundry tips. “Can I put my rugs in a washing machine?” “How do you know when to use cold water and when to use hot?” Someone signs on to read your blog posts because the information is useful. Inevitably, that person finds that they are on the market for a new washing machine. You’re already on their radar because they make contact with you every time they get your blog post in their inbox. They know your company knows its stuff for the same reason. They know how responsive you are to questions on social media, so if they are comparison shopping and end up with a conundrum, they are more likely to ask you than another company they don’t know and trust. Ultimately, people are most likely to purchase from a company they know and trust than from a company they don’t know at all.
The Long Game
There is no question that most of the time, content marketing is a long game. It’s not like advertising where you get clicks back to your website right away. It takes awhile to earn trust, especially these days. The advantage, however, is that leads earned this way are likely to stay in touch with you and may became brand evangelists for you. You can continue to nurture relationships with customers after they’ve bought your product because you continue to provide good information.
Do you have any questions for us about content marketing? Just ask! We’re here to help!
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