An Introduction To Content Marketing

An Introduction To Content Marketing

Bill Gates wrote the original “Content Is King” article in 1996.  Love him or hate him, he was correct.  He said people “must be rewarded with deep and extremely up-to-date information that they can explore at will” and “those who succeed will propel the Internet forward as a marketplace of ideas, experiences and products – a marketplace of content.”  I think it’s safe to say that Mr. Gates pretty much nailed it.

While content marketing has been around in some form or another for decades, businesses are ramping up those efforts now more than ever and taking advantage of every engagement and relationship building opportunity.   Whether you have an established brand or you’re a start-up, content marketing should be incorporated into your overall marketing strategy.

What Is It?

Content marketing is the creation and/or sharing of content that’s compelling, relevant and valuable to your target audience.  This content can come in many forms, including but not limited to: blogs, social media posts, website content, feature articles, videos, photos, podcasts, case studies, white papers, newsletters and webinars.

Sharing other people’s content (links to blogs and articles, for example) can be part of the equation, but only by creating and sharing your own original content can you take full advantage of the power of content marketing.

What Is It Not?

Content marketing is not a sales pitch or a glorified brochure for your business.  It should not create a sense of urgency or apply pressure.  It’s not a list of your products and services.  It does not persuade someone to hire or do business with your company.

Why Should You Do It?

When someone makes a comment or asks a question about the content you’ve shared, or goes so far as to thank you for sharing the content, you begin to forge a bond between your brand and that person.  Content marketing allows you to engage and cultivate lasting relationships with clients and prospects, earn their trust, earn their business and earn their loyalty.  You can establish your expertise and maintain top-of-mind awareness by sharing content on a regular basis.

All of the above make content marketing extremely effective at increasing brand awareness, generating leads and driving sales without doing any direct selling.  When it comes right down to it, most people don’t like to be sold to.  We like to be informed.  Enlightened.  Entertained.  Educated.  Updated.  Introduced to new things.  Effective content marketing makes us raise our eyebrows, nod and smile.  A perceived sales pitch makes us roll our eyes and click the little “X” in the upper right corner, unsubscribe, unlike, change the channel or turn the page.

What Questions Should You Consider When You Develop Your Content Marketing Strategy?

What are your goals?  Who is your target audience?  What type of content will they find most compelling?  What is the ideal length for each piece of content?  Where, when and how often should you share your content to reach the most people in your target audience?   What is the best way to track and analyze the results?  Answers to all of these questions will likely require research and testing.

What Is The Number One Rule Of Content Marketing?

The best way to achieve your goals is to share great content.  It really is that simple.  Just like any marketing vehicle, the content you share is a reflection of your business.  Weak or sloppy content is quickly dismissed and will likely result in future content being ignored.

Not only does the subject matter need to be compelling, relevant and valuable to your target audience, but the writing and design need to be engaging, appealing, intelligent and professional while conveying the proper tone and style.  Proceed without a good content marketing strategy at your own risk.

What kind of content marketing do you find to be most effective?