Content marketing is defined by the Content Marketing Institute as:
… 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.
But what does that mean?
What Content Marketing is NOT
Content marketing is not about your products or services.
That’s not to say it can’t be related, but speaking directly about what your business does is considered traditional marketing. Describing the problems your business solves is traditional marketing. So providing information about the many uses of your products, what service packages you have to offer, and what ways in which your customers can benefit from signing up with your business are not considered content marketing.
What Content Marketing IS
If you’re a doctor who’s written a book on helping people reach optimal health through weight loss, examples of content marketing would be:
- A list of resources for health supplements you recommend
- An ebook on benefits of meditation
- An infographic on the importance of exercise and nutrition
- A podcast guest appearance about the state of the food industry and/or politics surrounding food labeling and regulation
You’re not talking specifically about your book, which is traditional marketing.
You’re not talking about where people can find the book for purchase.
While the above list is certainly relevant to topics in your book, they are not about setting up a consultation in your office for an individual patient assessment, and they are not pushing for sales.
Other examples could include:
- A landscaping company releasing a planting guide for website visitors
- Yarn distributors writing an article about the differences between alpaca wool and sheep wool, and how to choose the right yarn weight for certain knitted or crocheted projects
- A producer of quality kitchen appliances putting out a cookbook
In each of these instances, the information is valuable to their customers without requiring or explicitly asking the purchase of their products or services. They still offer information for subjects related to that business through which their customers will learn something.
What’s the point of content marketing?
The reason marketing experts put so much stock in content marketing is simple:
You’re creating value for your customers where they can apply knowledge they’ve learned because of your brand to further their interests, solve their pain points, or improve their lives.
If that information is transformative enough, they are more likely to remember the source and consider you and your team industry experts. This does a couple things.
1. You become a voice of authority
Chances are, you are a voice of authority. Any business, big or small, grows through the knowledge of the people behind it. You know what you’re talking about. That you’re willing to share your hard-won knowledge on the subject of which you’re an expert will be appreciated by those just beginning to educate themselves or by those who haven’t considered a different perspective.
When you assert yourself as a voice of authority, you lend your business more credibility, so when the time comes to speak directly about your products or services, you’ve established your credentials. It’s a hurdle already overcome in the process of convincing future customers to trust you.
2. Your brand is the first they remember.
In the example of the landscaping company providing a planting guide, when a new gardener decides to finally install those raised beds in the spring, they’ll remember that planting guide they read in November came from your website, which makes them more likely to return to you for necessary supplies.
You’ve provided value to them through your knowledge. That means, if they have questions before they buy, you will be able to answer. If they buy and have trouble with the product, you can tell them where their process fell short and help them troubleshoot. The better you can support them through the buying process, the less painful the process will be, and the sooner they’ll reap the benefits and consider it money well spent.
The fewer pain points they have, the more loyal they become.
Repeat customers become brand ambassadors
By providing them with initial information they can use, you’re establishing yourself as an authority. Through consistent support during the purchase phase, you’re proving your integrity and willingness to stand behind your product. When they see your product has helped them with minimal pain, they’re more likely to come back for future purchases. Over time, that reliability you provide will give them absolute certainty they can recommend your business to their peers. And it all starts with content marketing.
Even if you don’t close a sale with everyone who benefits from your content marketing, you’re still improving people’s lives. You’re presenting your business as one of the good guys. You’re putting more positivity into the marketplace than you’re receiving, which builds your reputation in a constructive way.
In business, the adage, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity,” is not true and is potentially damaging.
Why Content Marketing?
Your business’s reputation is very much tied to good versus bad publicity. If you’re only talking about yourself, your products, or your services, you’re not centered on what your customers need. It’s about them, not you. How can you help? With content marketing. If you’re not giving relevant, valuable information, your message is only so much spam. Good content is rewarding to your business by more than just your clientele, too. Search engines index the best content based on its relevance and value.
If you’re a professional photographer who produces a short ebook on off-camera lighting techniques to help amateurs improve their art, your website will draw people who stick around to see what you have to say. You’ll be relevant to a greater number of searches, and the search engines will rank you higher as a result. More people will find you, including people who are looking to book the services of a professional photographer, especially one who proves they know their business.
The best possible outcome of providing great content marketing is you cultivate an audience who looks forward to your updates. They have reason to visit your site regularly, spend time reading to what you have to say, and will spread the word about your brand.
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