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Content marketing’s PR has its ups and downs. It’s been proclaimed the king of marketing universe on one day, to be questioned as an efficient marketing strategy on the day after.
But you know what? Don't fall into articles that proclaim the death of content marketing. Seriously, don't fall for it. It’s not true.
I don’t write it because I’m a content marketer and I firmly believe in the immortality of content marketing. I write it because I’m a content marketer and I see business benefits it brings to our business every day!
That’s why today I’d like to focus on the definition of content marketing and how we can use it in 2017 to make sure we are seen and heard by our audience.
What is content marketing
If you asked me about the definition of content marketing, I’d say:
Content marketing is a type of marketing that stimulates interest with a brand and its services by creation and promotion of online articles, posts, podcasts or videos. It helps to attract right audience and drives profitable customer actions, but at the same time builds brand’s credibility and helps to gain customer loyalty.
A very important part of content marketing is that it mixes a couple of marketing strategies into one. For example, content cannot be efficient without search engine optimization or a social media strategy.
The secret of content marketing is to provide valuable, relevant and consistent content. It means that every time you publish a podcast episode, a landing page or simply a blog post, it should be packed with useful information in an easy-to-read form.
How content marketing works
Sometimes I can hear that content marketing doesn’t work because a company has a blog, they post regularly, a lot of effort is put into this work, but the blog doesn’t sell. So, after a couple of months of hard work, this company decides to stop the project and shut down a blog.
OK, so let's say this straight: content marketing doesn’t sell. You know who makes sales? A salesperson or a sales team. Content marketing is much more complicated.
It helps to spread the word about the company at first and helps to build an audience that is interested in topics that are described on company’s website. It also helps you to show yourself as an expert in your field. And hey, who wouldn’t like to buy a product or service from an expert?
This is how content marketing works.
When I had a chat with John Hall, the co-founder, and CEO of Influence & Co. in my Business Sidekick podcast, he said a very important thing:
Content marketing, at least in our view of it, is the best way to stay on top of people’s minds at the right time. So when they are making a buying decision, it’s your company that they think of. If you come at it from a sales standpoint, then you lose that. And you lose the trust that they naturally come to you initially. The first person that comes to mind isn’t the person who just keeps selling you. It’s, the first person that helps you.
That’s why, let me repeat, your content marketing goal should be publishing valuable, relevant and consistent content. There is no one formula for content success, but if you ask me, I’d say that your posts should cover one topic in depth and offer actionable steps to your readers.
“How to” types of posts are the most likely to be shared by social media users!
The definition of content marketing in 2017
In 2017, the Internet is saturated with high-quality, valuable content. Most companies have blogs, there are dozens of podcasts or Youtube channels, so it’s very difficult to publish your content and stand out, right?
Here’s how John Hall sees the role of content in today’s Internet:
Right now there’s a lot of content, but there’s still a ton of value out there. I don’t care if there’s a billion or if there are twenty hundred billion pieces of content. All that matters is that are you getting the right eyes to view the content and it doesn’t matter if there’s a ton of content out there.
So everything in content marketing is about hypertargeting and delivering content that will be interesting for readers and potential customers. In other words, you need to have your content marketing personas and be able to tell which topics will be interesting to them.
Here you can check How to Do Market Research the Easiest Way and find who your audience is.
Of course, it will take some time until your content ship takes the right course, but hey – embrace failures, they help you to develop.
But how do I start, you could ask.
OK, here’s an example.
Let’s imagine that you have an online store and you sell products that are under ten dollars. As as you can imagine – it’s almost everything you can imagine!
Your first step is to document your strategy: what you’re trying to accomplish, your primary goal and secondary goals. You need to know what you will measure after six months and what you are going to measure after twelve months. It needs to be clear at the beginning; it’s your starting point.
Your next step is to make sure that your content strategy is consistent with your brand’s voice. You must know why you’re doing what you do and ensure that your communication leads around that “why.”
For example, if your product was made to solve a problem, make people more productive or efficient, you should write about these topics.
In the meantime, it’s great to build a community around your blog or podcast. Promote your content on social media (you can hypertarget it on Facebook or Linkedin), find your potential audience on forums and groups, or send email campaigns.
Here you can check How to Develop a Content Marketing Strategy in 3 Steps to build a content strategy from scratch!
Focus on giving value
There’s still a ton of value in content marketing, and there will always be a value, it’s not going to go away. It may change slightly but there’s always be a need to educate an audience that you’re targeting, that needs to learn about the area you’re in.
Content marketing is every brand’s business card. Everything, starting from website design and landing page copy, through resources like reports, ebooks or additional tools, should show brand’s personality and willingness to help.
Your goal is to show people that you’re not only willing to sell, but also that you’re passionate about what you do, and you actually care about your customers and readers.
And as long as you bring value to their lives, they will repay you with trust and loyalty and eventually will become your customers.