The concept of Content Marketing is a beneficial approach to marketing for almost any business. The intent is to provide customers with value, in the form of content, to enhance their trust and relationship with your business. As defined by the Content Marketing Institute;
“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.”
The value of Content Marketing includes:
- Provides value to your customers & prospects
- Attracts and creates awareness for new prospects (Inbound Marketing)
- Establishes trust and credibility
I effectively used Content Marketing (at the time I called it information marketing) to position a start-up business, establish credibility in the industry, and successfully grow that business to be one of the fastest growing private companies in America.
Content Marketing is the key element of Inbound Marketing, which to the benefit of customers everywhere, has slowly moved companies away from the traditional pushmarketing approach. Push marketing is the traditional approach of blasting out advertising, emails, promotions in the hope that a percentage of the recipients will respond. As we all know, hope is not a strategy, and modern consumers are less tolerant of disruption making it harder to capture their interest.
Inbound Marketing takes advantage of search engines to pull customers, who have already identified themselves as interested in your topic, to your website. Not only is this cost-effective, it provides higher conversion, and a higher sense of satisfaction for both your customers and employees.
However, as with any great thing, problems do arise, and the problem with Content Marketing is compounded by it’s own success. So many companies have embraced Content Marketing that our channels are now saturated with content, making it just as difficult to be noticed.
In my opinion, the real problem is in the definition of value. Remember, the original intent of content marketing is to provide your customers with value, in the form of content. In the name of content marketing, companies have lowered the bar on the definition of value. They pump out content that provides little to no value hoping to capitalize on search engine optimization. This approach is no better than the original push models and provides no benefit to the consumer.
What can you do to improve your Content Marketing?
- Raise the Bar!
First and foremost, put value back in your content. Understand that your customers are providing you with something, and that in exchange, you need to provide value as your part of the transaction.
- Invest in the Process
Accept that Content Marketing requires an investment in both time, personnel, and money. It is a long-term strategy, and not a quick and dirty approach. If you are going to do it, do it well.
- Listen to your Customers
In order to establish your value, you need to listen to your customers and really understand what they are looking for, and cannot get someplace else. Value is not what you want to provide your customer, but what your customer actual want.
- Be Creative
The greatest resource you have is creativity. Content should not be a commodity. What you provide needs to be unique enough to stand out. Companies need to challenge the status quo either in the content you provide, the format, or delivery. Some ideas might include:
- Enhance the quality of your content. Distribute less content, but of higher quality.
- Create demand through exclusivity. Limit the availability of the content you develop.
- Change the format. Analyze the format your customers digest content, and the nature of your product/service and then match your format with the appropriate sense, visual, audio, written, etc. For example, creative and product based businesses should deliver content in visual mediums. Consider animation, podcasts, or even online-to-offline (capture information online, and deliver the content in physical form)
Unfortunately, in marketing, there is not one specific process that will work for all companies. There is no golden ticket. However, if you take these tips and apply them to your content marketing efforts I think you will start to see results.
In addition, I think through this evaluation process you might find other areas in your business that can be adjusted to the benefit of your customers, and your bottom line.