Content marketing 101 – the good the bad and the ugly

You’ve probably been hearing the term “content marketing” a lot lately. Your competitors are either doing it — or planning to — but you have no idea what it is.  

Here’s what you need to know.

Many people say they’re doing content marketing, but are they really? Are they creating effective content or are they just using the newest buzzword?

Some companies create content because someone told them it was a good idea. A competitor has a blog, so they decide they need one too. However, without strategy, all  you’re doing is churning out self-serving copy. 

Good content marketing is about your audience, not about you.

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer actions.

If a company hasn’t identified the audience they’re trying to reach, they’re probably not offering that audience a compelling reason to read the content. When content is done right, with one focus and one purpose, it can create a more educated buyer, position you as a go-to expert, and shorten your sales cycle.

The key idea here is value. Value is what differentiates content marketing from almost any other form of advertising or marketing. Your content marketing needs to offer a specific value to the audience you’re trying to attract.

Content marketing puts the readers’ needs first. What does the consumer need to know, as opposed to what your company wants them to know about you? This quote (a favorite of mine) says it all.

“People don’t buy a quarter-inch drill, they buy a quarter-inch hole in the wall”

-Theodore Levitt

Content marketing is about your customers and their issues (the need for a hole).  Talking about your brand (the drill) comes later in the process. 

So, what does content marketing look like? It comes in a lot of different forms including: 

  • Infographics
  • White papers or ebooks
  • Webinars (webcasts)
  • Video
  • Podcast
  • Websites with a blog or resource page
  • Custom publications 
  • Sponsored content 

Traditionally, marketers have turned to brand advertising for the early stages of the sales cycle to let prospects know who you are, what you do, and what makes you different. 

The beginning of the sales cycle is also when content marketing can bring results — by tapping into the early stages of the education process. The stories content marketers tell can inform consumers by delivering valuable, relevant information —before the audience may have considered it or even before they’re aware they have a problem that needs a solution. The combination of content marketing and brand advertising delivers powerful results. 

There’s no short-cut to success. You may not see immediate results, but give it some time. We did. BizTimes Media did not build a database of 16,000+ e-newsletter subscribers or 12,000+ print subscribers overnight. It took 25 years of delivering valuable content. 

So, how do you get started? 

The truth is, content marketing can be a full-time job. But if it’s done right, it can make your business more profitable. When you’re beginning a campaign, it may not be a good idea to go into it alone. Consider finding a partner in an experienced firm or professional. 

Take advantage of our experience with this free guide. https://biztimes.com/lp/guide-to-inbound-and-content-marketing/  Or, if you’re ready to have a brief conversation about your content marketing plans, feel free to reach out to us today.  

 

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