When most people think of marketing, they typically think about promotional marketing – how can you directly promote products and services to generate sales. Promotional marketing activities are important, but it’s equally important – especially if you are building up a reputation and brand – to pay attention to content marketing as well. Content marketing is often underutilized and misunderstood, so let’s take a look at what it is and how to effectively use it.
Understanding Content Marketing
The foundation of content marketing is consistently delivering reliable and valuable content to your target audience. In doing so, you attract potential customers and build your image as an expert in your field. Content marketing is important in both B2C contexts, but also in B2B sales and marketing activities. The goal is simple – build a reputation that leads to interest in your product over time. Content marketing also helps build up your digital content and has a halo effect for increasing your visibility in search engines related to specific key words that track back to your content marketing strategy.
To figure out what kind of content to develop, think about what your target audience is looking for. Someone will probably first come across your content because of internet search. You want your resource to be informative, relevant, and to not feel like a sales pitch. There are many examples of how to do this but let’s take an example that many of us can relate to: home improvement!
Home Depot has built a reputation (and therefore a “brand”) around encouraging people to get involved in DIY home improvement projects. In developing content like the video below, they give people the know-how and confidence to take on a new project. As people turn to Home Depot’s resources and begin to trust them as a reliable source for information, this leads to trusting them as a dependable place to shop for these projects.
Types of Content Marketing
Many forms of content marketing have little to no resource costs, especially online. You can regularly release articles, infographics, podcasts, videos and other resources on your website and social media. This can even include routinely sharing news and events from related sources. Once you have a small following base, you can start sending out newsletters with valuable information. With higher up-front costs, you might even want to consider if printed content marketing could be right for your audience, like a quarterly magazine. Check out the examples below.
There are a few foundational tips to remember as you begin developing your content marketing strategy. First of all, be intentional in developing content that is relevant and valuable to your current and prospective customers. It’s crucial to differentiate content marketing and advertising. Most readers will be put off if your content feels like a bait and switch. Consider carefully when to include a call to action or mentioning your products or services, so that your content doesn’t feel too promotional in nature.
Secondly, keep your content coming regularly. Ideally, you should consider hiring an in-house content marketing manager. Your content marketing manager should have a firm grasp on your business field and what your target audience would find useful. This way you can ensure someone is responsible for routinely developing quality content.