The first thing to keep in mind about Content Marketing is that it is a specific marketing strategy. Check out my previous blog post on marketing strategies for the deep dive into what that means. To summarize, a marketing strategy is the path you choose to reach your marketing goal. The strategy is then broken down into related activities and tasks that are all pointed toward that goal.
Some common marketing strategies include:
Social media marketing
Pay per click (PPC) ads marketing
Direct response marketing
Once you decide to implement a marketing strategy, you will focus on tasks that fall under that heading. While this may seem restrictive at first, a focused approach is the best use of your energy and resources. If content marketing is your strategy, direct your efforts into activities that support the strategy to optimize its effectiveness.
What is Content Marketing?
My own simple definition is: Content Marketing involves providing something valuable and useful to your target audience for the purpose of attracting, nurturing, and converting them into paying customers.
Here are a few other definitions from around the web:
“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.” (Content Marketing Institute)
“Content marketing is a marketing strategy used to attract, engage, and retain an audience by creating and sharing relevant articles, videos, podcasts, and other media. This approach establishes expertise, promotes brand awareness, and keeps your business top of mind when it’s time to buy what you sell.” (MailChimp)
“It’s the process of publishing written and visual material online with the purpose of attracting more leads to your business. These can include blog posts, pages, ebooks, infographics, videos, and more.” (HubSpot)
Should I Do Content Marketing?
It’s worthwhile to consider a few different marketing strategies to determine which one seems like the best fit for your business.
Content marketing is a great strategy if:
Your ideal customers are likely to research and gather information about your product or service.
Building relationships with customers and other businesses is essential to your business
You want your organic content to rank in search engine results.
Your business is in a high content industry.
It seems like there is a lot of content potential in your business or industry.
You believe that education and value are important elements of your sales process.
The first reason in the list above - that customers are searching for information - is often one of the most important for this type of marketing. Consumers are savvy, and they usually like to learn as much as they can about a product or service before they engage in the sales process.
If they are going to spend time learning about what you offer, why not be the resource that educates them? If they feel that your content is high quality, trustworthy, and valuable, they are more likely to trust you and your expertise. Your content is building the sales relationship for you so that they are ready to engage your services before you even talk to them.
Does Content Marketing Give Away Too Much Value for Free?
The most common concern I hear about content marketing is that if you give away too much of your business knowledge, people won’t need your services. I do understand this fear, but there is no such thing as too much value.
First, if someone is fully committed to achieving their goal on their own, they will find a way to learn how. They were never going to be your customer, so you don’t lose anything by helping them.
The people you are really interested in attracting with your content are those who are leaning toward the DIY method and those who know they want a professional.
The DIY-minded person is evaluating whether or not they can accomplish the solution on their own. If they can do it on their own, and your valuable content is helpful, they have more reason to trust you when their project finally requires a professional. More often, at some point they realize that a professional is going to be more efficient and effective, so when they decide who to work with, they’ll most like go with the one that provided the help and resources to them.
Finally, your most ideal client is the one already looking for a professional, and your content will help them decide to come to you. Their research has shown them that by engaging with a service provider, they will reach their solution thoroughly, accurately, and effectively.
Product businesses can also benefit from a great content strategy. Content is a way to use storytelling that sets you apart, provide education that helps consumers make the best decision, and deliver industry information that allows new customers to find you. If you have a particularly unique product or technology, your content will help you reach and educate your market.
How do I Get Started with Content Marketing?
If you decide that content marketing is likely to be the effective strategy for your business, your first inclination might be to just start producing content. But that isn’t the first step! Remember, this is a strategy, which means you need to be strategic and intentional about your actions.
Every marketing strategy starts with your persona. Content creation becomes much more streamlined when you have someone in mind for it. Take this very blog article as an example. Do you notice how my goal is to provide information about a topic I understand well and answer some common questions my ideal clients usually ask? My hope is that you find it valuable, but also that you see how I might help you with your content marketing strategy. Produce content that speaks directly to your ideal client, and that’s who you will reach.
Once you know who you are developing content for, you’ll have a good idea of what topics and format resonate best.
Some topics ideas include:
Your offering compared to alternatives (as unbiased as you can be)
How people did something in the past vs what options are available today
Sharing the first steps in your service process as a “How to” guide
Define and answer questions about one of the keywords that bring people to your website
Case studies about how you helped a past client, including their initial problem, your solution, and the results
Some popular formats of content include:
Substack or Medium articles
Your format depends both on your best way of developing content and your target audience’s preferred format for consuming content. This is where it might be a good idea to bring in a professional. If you love to write, but your ideal client prefers videos, you’ll need help converting your written content into video format. Even if you are fully aligned with your ideal client in content topics and format, marketing professionals can help you present the very best version of your amazing content.
If you’re curious about whether content marketing is right for your business or want to get started but aren’t sure how - let’s talk! Your first consultation with us is always free; book your 30-minute discovery call today.