Catalogues and brochures, for example. That’s content.
An instruction manual or How-To Guide. That’s also content.
A case study on an interesting customer who bought your product. That’s right, content.
However, the way in which content can now be shared online, particularly through social media, is what makes Content Marketing the hot topic of today. It’s a wake-up-and-smell-the-coffee moment as businesses are starting to realise that content is powerful. It can be used to engage and retain customers, raise brand awareness and grow business in a new way, without the hard-sell attitude.
So how does Content Marketing work?
Content Marketing is ultimately a sales tool, but this kind of marketing is not about cold, hard selling. It’s not about Buy it now or 25% off. It’s about communicating and relationship building. A softly, softly approach, akin to Relationship Marketing.
Yes, the aim is to drive a response which is usually sales related, but this could also be some other kind of action such as email registration, Facebook likes, retweets or referrals.
Content Marketing is something that can be done by EVERY business, no matter how big or small.
It’s simply the process of developing and distributing a bank of information (words, videos, graphics and more) that your target audience will find useful and valuable.
The idea is that the content you provide should spark a conversation, strike a chord or solve a problem for your target audience, not shove your product or service in their face. By providing useful and valuable information about topics that are of interest to your target audience, they will be more inclined to engage with your brand, to trust it and to share your information with others. Building a relationship in this way means your audience will then be more likely to buy your product or service when they’re in the market for it.
In essence, by creating content that is engaging and shareworthy you build an audience that will build your business for you. And, as a bonus, search engines favour content-rich websites too, so having lots of relevant and useful content on your website helps to increase your online visibility.
What sort of content should you produce?
Suitable content can come in many forms – online magazines, case studies, how-to guides, video tutorials, industry news, the list is endless. It can be informative, humorous, educational or entertaining. The key is understanding what your target audience would find useful, valuable or shareworthy.
- A holiday company might develop a series of city break guides or start a food blog giving a range of international recipes.
- A beauty business might develop a monthly online magazine talking about the latest beauty trends, products and techniques.
- A paint supplier might produce a number of ‘how to’ video tutorials giving people advice on how to decorate their homes. They might also create a Pinterest board of the latest home furnishing trends.
- A baby product brand might launch a new online community for parents, offering them expert advice on practical parenting and discussion forums for connecting with other parents.
Content can be created from scratch or curated from other sources. It can be produced in-house or outsourced to a copywriter or content specialist. However, the key to effective Content Marketing is making sure you have a strategy behind it.
Don’t produce information for the sake of it. Think carefully about the type of information you produce, the tone of voice used and the business objectives your content will support. Content Marketing is about creating a depth and breadth of engaging information but stay focused on your target audience and what is important to them. By doing so your content will work hard and deliver results.
Need some help with developing your Content Marketing activity? Want to get hold of some cracking copy? Give me a shout.