What is content marketing if it isn’t just good old-fashioned story-telling - but with purpose?
Traditional marketing has always sought to promote brands, products and services using newspapers, TV, radio, newsletters and billboards to reach a target audience and convince them to buy.
When the ‘dot-com’ boom of the late 1990s heralded massive growth in the adoption and use of the Internet, there was a seismic shift in the way that companies engage with their customers to do business. And in the way that those same customers go through the process of making a purchasing decision. Where once a consumer would walk into a store and chat to a salesperson about the pros and cons of a product before choosing what to buy, the sudden ubiquity of the Internet meant that all of that research and consideration could now be done online.
So, if not through mainstream advertising or face to face ‘sales’ pitches, how then would marketers and salespeople help consumers make their buying decisions? They did it by evolving the way they tell their story through relevant, consistent and authentic content marketing.
SEO, social media, and the preponderance of online content, (video, blog posts, and infographics) mean that marketers need to work smarter to cut through the increasingly cluttered online environment.
Customers (both prospective and existing) have grown accustomed to getting the information they want instantaneously, despite the overwhelming plethora of information available on the Internet. Marketing managers need to find ways to engage meaningfully with their customers, and grow a relationship that breeds brand loyalty and ultimately, repeat business.
In the current climate – where change seems to be the only constant – smart marketing that delivers ROI cost-effectively is critical.
So what is content marketing, and why should you care?
No longer just a sales support function, marketing managers often have significant KPIs around the measurable success of their marketing campaigns. Content marketing can help these managers achieve one of six key business objectives: branding, community building, public relations, market research, customer service, and lead/sales generation.
The ability to create valuable, captivating content that attracts attention and generates leads, expands the customer base, generates online sales, increases brand awareness and boosts brand reputation by engaging an entire online community of users is key.
Unlike traditional marketing, the main focus of content marketing is the customer, and not the brand. It identifies a need, articulates the things that customers care about, and establishes a meaningful connection that will lead to a remarkable, and hopefully repeatable, customer experience.
The ultimate goal of content marketing is to grow awareness and establish your reputation as an experienced, authoritative leader in your field. In doing this, you encourage customers to visit your website again and again searching for content, information and sales.
Once a business has identified the customer's need, they need to deliver a continuous but curated stream of content that can presented in a variety of formats, including news, video, white papers, e-books, infographics, email newsletters, case studies, podcasts, how-to guides, question and answer articles, photos and blogs.
This approach is designed to attract prospects and convert them into customers by creating content that the target audience will find valuable enough to share.