It’s something we talk a whole lot about here at the Content Marketeer. We try to offer insights into the latest industry news and data, practical advice for taking your content marketing to the next level, and interviews with people who are in the content marketing trenches.
But we realized the other day that we haven’t gone back to the basics. We haven’t weighed in on what content marketing is and why you should start doing it right now.
Today, I’m going to remedy that oversight. Let’s go back to the basics: the what and the why of content marketing.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is the art of using content and information to market your product or service. Unlike traditional marketing, content marketing doesn’t focus on the product or service itself. Instead, it focuses on your audience: What do they care about? What do they need? What information is useful to them?
Based on those needs, you create piece of content—an eBook, a blog post, a newsletter, a Facebook post, or perhaps all of the above—and offer it to your users, often for free or very cheap.
So, that content marketing content—useful, usable, and branded—communicates both your expertise and the fact that you care about and understand your customers’ needs.
For example, a blog post written by an ad agency about how to best use Twitter = content marketing. A video made by a car service company about how to find a great mechanic = content marketing. An ebook by a pool installation company about how to choose between inground and aboveground pools = content marketing.
A blog post written by an ad agency about how much their agency rocks = not content marketing.
The premise is that when it comes time to buy, customers will remember that brilliant blog post, interesting newsletter, or useful eBook—and they reach out to you instead of your competitors.
After all, you’ve already proven that you get it. And, let’s face it, everyone wants to work with companies that get it.
Content marketing doesn’t replace traditional marketing; it enhances it
So, here’s an important thing to keep in mind:
Content marketing isn’t the only thing you should do.
It isn’t a replacement for your website, brochures, and other marketing tactics. Those can be really important too.
Customers still need a place they can go to find the specifications, features, reviews, benefits, and uses of your product or service. They do need information about how and why to buy.
But, they also want to buy from companies that they trust and, dare I say, even love. And sales pages alone won’t get you to trust or love.
Though content marketing just might.
Let’s take rock star content marketer Marie Forleo for example…
If you read my articles often, you’ve probably heard of business and life coach, Marie Forleo. She’s a brilliant content marketer who creates weekly videos answering business and life questions from her readers. She’s fun to watch, keeps things succinct, and really has her finger on the pulse of her audience.
And by giving these videos away for free? She creates a connection with her audience that makes them love and trust her. These aren’t people who are just excited about a product. They are excited about her and her brand. And whatever product she puts out (be it her book, her online course, or something else altogether), people want it.
If Marie simply wrote a blog post every week about how great her life coaching services were, people might occasionally call for a quote or bookmark her site, but would she really stand out the way she does now?
I don’t think so.
Instead, by offering free, consistent advice every single week, she communicates to people that she gets them. She understands them. And there’s even more great advice where this stuff came from.
So people are compelled to buy her products and services. They trust her to help them with their dilemmas. They believe she cares and understands.
What are you waiting for? Now is the time.
As Marie Forleo’s runaway success shows us, people are more than ready to work with companies that get them. But if you want people to know that you get them, care about them, and can really solve their problems, you’re going to have to prove it.
Because the buyer journey has shifted drastically in the past few years. People don’t trust traditional advertising anymore. But you know what they do trust? Great content marketing. Companies that prove they know what they’re talking about – and they understand their audience.
Don’t take my word for it, though. According to a recent study by About.com, “71% of consumers trust brands that provide useful info without trying to sell them something.”
Okay. So what now?
Working on starting a content marketing program from scratch? The best first step is strategy. Looking for a way to wrangle your existing content marketing efforts? Consider giving Kapost a free test drive. No sales guy to walk you through it. Just you, the platform, and your curiosity.
Have a content marketing success story of your own? Starting out and not sure what comes first? Leave us a comment. We’d love to chat.
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