Content marketing is the new trend for the digital millennium, but why the new buzzword and how can it work for your business?
Before the internet, we had print, radio, and TV. Each of these mediums could exist for one reason and one reason only – paid advertisements. Advertising revenue is the lifeblood of print publishers, radio stations, and TVs because, without it, they simply could not pay for their infrastructure.
Ads displayed on traditional media are annoying inconveniences that customers are forced to put up with whether they want to see them or not. Even entertaining ads have a limited lifespan, as repeat viewings rapidly decrease their entertainment value.
As more and more media gets consumed over the internet customers are now in the position to be able to choose what they see and hear. If they don’t like it, they can simply go somewhere else.
It has become increasingly evident to businesses that they needed to start changing their tactics by providing value, instead of annoying their prospects into a sale.
Content marketing is but one part of a growing methodology of marketing called inbound marketing, which is a strategically designed strategy to gently lead people into a sales funnel.
While the concept of content marketing has been around for a while many business people still have the misconception that it is part of an overall SEO strategy that exists solely to acquire links to a website.
While links are still essential for the time being – and probably for a while into the foreseeable future as well – going into content marketing with the sole aim of acquiring links means that you are missing out on the core concept of what inbound marketing, and by association, content marketing is all about.
What is the Definition of Content Marketing?
Content marketing is the process of developing relationships, building trust, and increasing brand visibility through the creation, publishing, and sharing of content.
Yes, links are still important, but they should not be the sole aim of a content marketing strategy. Good content will naturally produce links anyway, so the focus should be put on creating and publishing awesome content that will naturally get shared.
Content marketing is the best way to establish your business as an authority in the marketplace and be the go-to location for your customers to come and have their problem solved, whatever that problem might be.
It is by far the best strategy for building influence for a business. As the definition of influence is the ability to have an effect on a character which changes their behavior or development, it’s something every business should strive for.
How Does Content Marketing Work?
An effective content marketing strategy works because it adds value. The more value you add to your content the more influence you will have. The people you are reaching out to should be receiving a tangible benefit from reading the content you produce.
Benefits from your content could come as a solution to a problem they have been having, or simply as an answer to a question they need an answer to, without you asking for anything in return.
This is why you must be developing a constant stream of useful relevant content for your audience. The more content you produce the bigger will be your return as you continue to add value to their lives.
While it may seem like you are just giving away some of your best stuff, you are actually buttering the prospect up for a relatively soft sell in the future, with multiple sales to the same customer being the end goal.
Every effective marketing plan makes the pitch all about the customer because what you can do for them is all they want to know. By providing them valuable benefits in the short term you are creating a greater potential for sales in the long term as prospects get to know, like, and trust you.
Where are Your Customers?
A popular marketing mantra says to “go where your customers are.” Inbound marketing gives a business the ability to be present wherever their customers are hanging out like no other marketing strategy that came before.
As social media continues to grow in popularity there have been new channels opening with alarming regularity and it can be hard to decide on where to begin.
Therefore, some research is needed to find out where your most responsive audience is hanging out and to focus your content marketing efforts on a small handful of sites – rather than spreading yourself too thin.
This will enable you to publish your content regularly on a site where you know your prospects are going to see it, and in a format they prefer.
What Should You Publish?
Your content can take many forms, and the most effective content marketing strategy will involve content from all types of media in order to cast the widest net possible.
Your audience will be made up of individuals who have their own preferred way of consuming content. Some will prefer video, while others like to read, and yet others enjoy plugging into a podcast while traveling in the car so they are making the best use of their time.
Some of your content will be more suited to a certain type of medium, but most can be converted into others. A long text can be changed to audio, and video presentations can be made from shorter texts with graphic and animations added to make them interesting.
Time should be spent finding out which medium has the most impact on your audience, so you can devote the greater portion of your resources into producing content of that nature.
When Will You See Results?
Many businesses are hesitant to adopt a content marketing strategy because of the difficulty in measuring the ROI.
It’s true that it can be difficult to realize a return on your expenditure for quite a while, but content marketing is a long game, and most efforts will not yield measurable results for the first 18 months or so.
It also helps to understand that content marketing will continue to pay dividends long after the effects of a paid campaign have dwindled to nothing. Like a train first starting to roll – it struggles at first, but once it gets going it’s hard to stop when it has all of that weight behind it.
Content marketing is the same principle, a few articles here and there aren’t going to make much of a difference, but keep producing great content regularly and your business will continue to be found in ways you probably never even expected.
In conclusion, your content marketing strategy should be focused on creating immense value to the right audience, rather than existing solely for link building purposes.
Your content should be working for you, building influence in the marketplace and educating your prospects on the value you can provide. Ultimately, it’s your level of influence which can pave the way to greater profits.
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