Content marketing is a whole new ball game that’s now gaining a lot of traction. In the Information Age, content marketing is one of the most effective strategies of getting your products or services in front of consumers.
Traditional advertising involves a fight for getting customers’ attention in a way that “interrupts” them in whatever they’re doing, such as in the case of TV ads or even, in the Internet age, Facebook and YouTube ads.
What Is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is the process of creating content (such as blog posts, videos, or images) that does not explicitly promote your brand, but is designed to generate interest in your brand’s services or products.
If this is a new concept for you, there’s no need to be intimidated! We hope this guide will help you get started on content marketing as seamlessly as possible.
If you already know a bit about content marketing, we hope this can also serve as a good refresher course for you.
Why Traditional Advertising Isn’t as Effective Today
First, let’s look at how traditional advertising works. Companies come up with advertising content which is meant to grab a customer’s attention from whatever they’re doing, as in the examples below:
- TV commercials interrupt them while they’re watching a TV show;
- Radio ads blare through the speakers while they’re driving somewhere;
- Magazine ads interrupt their browsing’
- Billboards in train stations or on the street catch their eye while they’re waiting for their ride.
In a sense, these advertising media rely on a relatively captive audience, hoping they don’t turn away before they’re done reading the content. To do this, ad companies jostle each other for the most creative and clever copywriting.
Even then, they only win a few seconds of the customer’s attention.
This model of advertising has a few serious flaws:
- Traditional ads will only grab customers’ attention for a very limited amount of time.
- The ad interrupts customers and does not really offer anything of value.
- Advertising costs are very expensive, and they do not guarantee results.
Content marketing presents a better approach, without these limitations.
Why Is Content Marketing Important?
Content marketing has changed the way we approach advertising. It allows businesses to achieve several things at once:
1. Reach customers in a less invasive way.
Content marketing offers content that customers actually want. This in turn gives you permission to promote a product or service.
2. Educate your potential customers.
When you educate your audience, you help them understand the value of what you’re offering, which makes them more likely and more willing to buy your product or service.
3. Useful content can sway your customers to give back to you as well.
When you have consistently provided content that is truly helpful to your customers, chances are, they may feel like giving back to you by buying a product or service.
4. It doesn’t cost any money to attract customers through content marketing.
Many of the channels for content marketing are either free or come at no additional cost. For example, when you start a website, you may opt for a paid domain and hosting, but adding a new blog post is free. Posting a video on YouTube or Facebook is also free.
This means it won’t cost you a fortune to reach potential customers using content marketing. Yes, you would be spending time and energy to make your content, but that’s a fraction of what you would typically pay for traditional advertisements.
5. Your content can easily be shared by your network.
Sharing has become a norm in the world of content creation. When your audience loves your work or finds it helpful, it will be natural for them to share it with their friends and colleagues. This creates a natural flow of sharing and reaching new people, usually with no added effort on your part.
What Are Examples of Content Marketing?
Remember, content marketing involves a long-term process of building relationships with your audience through the creation of high-quality content on a regular basis.
Some of the most popular content marketing methods include the following:
- Blog posts
- Infographics or images
- Podcasts or audio recordings
- Videos on YouTube or social media platforms that provide real value and benefit to customers
- Downloadable PDFs or ebooks
How Is Content Marketing Done?
Content marketing is usually done in one of two ways: educational or entertaining content. Either way, two conditions should be met:
- The customers should be able to access the content for free; and
- The content should provide real value.
Because of these conditions, it’s important to create valuable content that will actually benefit your potential customers.
How to Create Excellent Content
Whatever format you decide for your content, here are some tips to help you make sure that the content you’re offering is:
- offers value
- helps them solve a problem
- wins their appreciation, thereby causing them to share it with others
- may eventually lead them to a purchase decision
1. Find out what your audience wants.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is not some intimidating monster that only internet experts understand.
In layman’s terms, optimizing your content to fit search engine results simply means offering a solution to your audience’s needs or desires, which they show you when they type keywords into a search engine like Google.
You can use keyword research tools for this, or do a quick Google search and check the suggested questions that come up.
These are the most common things that people type into the Google search box and should clue you in on the information your potential customers are seeking.
2. Offer as much value as you can.
Remember, the goal of content marketing is not to market your product or service, although somewhere down the line you will be able to do that.
Always prioritize what will benefit your audience. Give them the information they are looking for and pack as much value as you can.
When you provide value, you start to build trust, and that trust will bring customers back to your brand the next time they have a need or problem.
3. Outdo your competitors.
The internet is jam-packed with content creators. Clearly, you will not be the only one that has something to say about your field. (If you are the only one, chances are, not many people are looking for that information!)
So how do you stand out from the crowd?
One key is to study your competitors and make sure you offer a better value than they do. It may not always be possible to beat their prices, but always aim to improve on whatever they have.
If you’re writing blog posts, study the top-ranking websites that have covered that topic and learn from them. One reason that sites rank well is because many sites link to them, and people share links when they find the content very helpful.
Study the content and structure of the article to learn what makes it useful. Apply them in your own writing, but push yourself to go one notch higher.
4. Stay diligent.
The old maxim for creating content involved churning out content on a regular basis, such as one blog post a week or one video per week. These days, content marketing experts lean more towards the quality of the post, but both strategies require diligence and endurance.
Commit yourself to producing the best quality content you can day in and day out. As you stay consistent and diligent in the area of quality, and not just in quantity, you will be able to collect a steady stream of followers that you can build a relationship with.
5. Consider multiple formats.
While you may think it’s best to focus on your strengths and only offer your content in the format you know best, demand is increasingly shifting toward a variety of platforms.
Most people used to only read text online; but with the increasing popularity of podcasts and YouTube videos, there’s even more competition in the content creation landscape.
To combat this, consider offering your content in multiple formats. To maximize your efforts, you can actually interconnect them.
For example, if you prefer writing, you can start by writing a lengthy and very informative blog post, and then take key highlights and turn them into a video, then convert the audio into a podcast.
How to Succeed in Content Marketing
Content marketing doesn’t have to be scary, or even difficult. Once you understand how it works and how it can help you build trust with your audience, you can actually start to have fun creating original, helpful content.
Plus, trying your hand at a number of different platforms will help you to expand your skillset and expose you to new ways of connecting with customers that you may not have considered before.
Did you find this post helpful? Let us know in the comments below!