As buzzwords go, content marketing has been reigning over the marketing world for a while now.
My bet is that is because any new ideas can be rolled into the huge, undifferentiated mass that is content marketing. Sure, ebooks and blog posts are obvious, but email nurture? Yep, that’s creating content to be sent via email. Social? Absolutely- just little bits of content sent hourly. You think we can’t claim events? Try creating a successful booth without designers and writers. Content marketing can grow to encompass anything, because all of marketing needs words or pictures (or both). All roads lead to Oz.
That breadth is also what makes content marketing tough to nail down. When content means everything, then it functionally means nothing.
Let’s strip it back down.
Content marketing is creating content that helps your potential customers while also driving them down your marketing funnel (i.e. making them more likely to buy from you).
Now, this happens in a lot of different ways, but the most popular format used is blogs. By creating blogs about topics that answer their potential customers’ needs, they can not only get precious attention share with their core audience, but they can also highlight aspects of their own products that help solve those problems.
As those problems get more complex, the types of content expand to that complexity; B2B companies (or businesses that sell products or services to other businesses) often end up writing long white papers or eBooks and infographics that simplify and explain their solutions.
It’s an incredible win-win that also happens to be (and here is the core) relatively cheap. Your company already has the experts- you just need someone who can turn that expertise into content.
By answering issues and questions your potential customers have, your customers seek YOU out, instead of the other way around. That’s why content marketing and other practices are called Inbound Marketing. It differentiates from the old “outbound” advertising practices that rely on pushing your message in front of your customers. “Inbound” draws those same customers in, instead.
Not only does this save you money (Super Bowl ads aren’t getting any cheaper), but it creates an evergreen marketing piece. The same questions your customers have now will likely be the same next year, and the next. One marketing effort can pay off for years. Try doing that with an ad.
Most importantly, however, it creates trust with your potential customers. You are not just the company who shows up when their wallet is already open. Your company has been providing answers and help even when there was no immediate benefit to you. When customers are ready to buy, your company is automatically on the short list.
This is especially important as millennials, who are throwing out old purchasing models, step into more and more buying decision roles. The millennial generation has a well-documented proclivity for values-based purchasing. Things like the company’s charity efforts and business practices weigh far heavier with millennials than previous generations. Setting your company up as a trusted advisor will only become more important over the next few decades. Get ahead of the curve now.
Since the advent of the internet, people have learned to turn to the internet with their problems. If you aren’t online answering those questions for your customers, someone else is. If you’re not creating content that helps them, excites them or teaches them, someone else is.
Someone is talking to your customers. Will it be you?
Whether you're just getting started in content marketing or are ready to start lapping your competition, CHARGE can help you move your content marketing forward.