What is content marketing?

Content Marketing: Could it help?

So you’ve heard the term at some conference somewhere or other, and that new sales guy keeps going on about it, but what is content marketing? And, more importantly, is it something that could help your business?

The term “content marketing” actually encompasses a range of strategies that you can add to your overall marketing plan. The basic premise of content marketing, according to the Content Marketing Insititute is as follows:

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.

Well that was a mouthful. Let me break it down.

First of all “a strategic marketing approach” is basically a plan. Do you have a marketing plan for 2018 as part of your overall business plan? If you don’t, this is something you might want to think about. Marketing plans can take many different forms and I can’t explain to you how to create one in a single blog post, but my advice would be: come up with some goals and then try to figure out how you’re going to get there. For example, I’d like to have [x] new customers per [timespan]. Or, I’d like to increase my turnover by [y]%. That sort of thing.

Next bit: “creating and distributing” well thats easy. Is it?

So you have to come up with content (whether that’s words, images, videos or any other form of media) and get it out there into the public domain. Right, so how do we do that? There are loads of different ways. To begin with, you have all of your “traditional” marketing methods, such as:

  • Word of mouth – even if you’re not doing anything to promote your business, your customers might tell other people about the work you’ve been doing for them.
  • Direct mail – creating flyers, brochures, postcards etc. that can be sent through the post to potential customers.
  • Print advertising – such as newsletters, newspaper or magazine articles and adverts etc.
  • Broadcast – you can advertise on TV or radio if you like.

Then you have digital marketing in all its forms. Generally speaking, digital marketing is cheaper, faster and easier to produce than its traditional equivalent and it has the potential to reach a much greater number of prospective customers. However, it’s important to remember that creating great content must lie at the centre of your digital marketing strategy!

 So what is great content? This is the bit about “valuable, relevant, and consistent”.

VALUABLE – what value does it provide to your customers? It could simply be entertainment value; a funny, unique video or image on your social media. It could be informative; letting your customers know about updates and changes to your industry in a news section on your website. It could be an explanation – a bit like this post, taking a complex idea and breaking it down so that your customers have a better understanding of the subject. What isn’t valuable is simply regurgitating information you’ve seen elsewhere.

RELEVANT – are your customers likely to be interested in what you have to say? You need to stay on topic. If you’re an accountancy firm, people aren’t likely to be interested in your opinion on this years X Factor results. Equally, they’re interested in what’s relevant to them. I’m sure they don’t care about industry-specific regulations that affect your business, just theirs.

CONSISTENT – ohhhh this is a big one. I can’t stress enough how important consistency is to your brand. Consistency in terms of formatting, tone, frequency, everything. Consistency builds trust. Trust builds relationships. Relationships build sales. I could probably write a whole separate post on the importance of consistency in your marketing approach!

So the aim is to “attract and retain a clearly defined audience”?

Do you know what kind of audience you’re looking to attract through your digital marketing? If so, how are you then going to find these people, speak to them, engage with them and ultimately convert them into customers.

What kind of people make up your target market? Creating a customer persona is a great way to figure this out. Think about how people spend their time online, what social networks they use (both for personal and for work) and target them appropriately.

And finally…

The ultimate goal of content marketing: “to drive profitable customer action”. Well that’s sales, essentially.

So let’s have a look at what we’ve got here. A definition of content marketing that’s a little easier to digest:

A plan to create great content that your target customers are likely to find interesting and enjoyable. It should help build trust in your brand and encourage sales.

I think that’s a little bit easier to understand?

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