If you’re not immersed in the marketing industry day in and day out, you may be unfamiliar with content marketing. And if you’re wondering what content marketing is, this post serves as a place to get your feet wet and learn more about it.
What is content marketing?
Simply put, content marketing is jargon we use in the marketing industry to describe content that is customized or published with a key demographic in mind. It’s a way to distribute relevant information that audiences can engage with; content they want to read and be a part of. This content has value and serves a purpose. Content marketing can be seen as a solution to a problem or need your target audience has.
Content marketing is not about selling. The information you provide to your audience should be valuable, not a sales pitch. In many ways, content marketing puts a face on your company or brand and shows you in a personal light. Real discussion. Real topics. Real information.
Customizing content isn’t new.
When you were a teenager, did you tell your parents about your wild adventures on the weekends? Do you answer a question about shoes with a list of the top places you want to go on vacation? No. Why? Because you know how to interact and follow a conversation. You know who it is appropriate to share intimate information with and who really wouldn’t care to know about it. In life, we are constantly filtering and customizing our own content.
Bottom line: no matter if you’re the key spokesperson at your company, the marketing specialist at a nonprofit or just the guy who happens to be in charge of social media, you need to know the right things to say to your audiences and the exact information they care to know about.
Bigger isn’t always better.
I once received an e-newsletter from a printer with the following information:
“Long copy sells. For years the Wall Street Journal sent their 8 page letter solicitation. They experimented with shorter copy, but could never beat the response rate for the 8 page control. Overall, real buyers want lots of information on the product they are considering. So the more information you can include in a mailing, the more likely you will attract buyers. This has somewhat changed with buyers able to get more information from a company’s website, but not much. If catalogers could simply get you to go to their website, then they wouldn’t need to send an expensive catalog.”
Interestingly enough, as I was prepping for this blog post, I Googled the first sentence of this paragraph (mostly because I couldn’t remember which e-news it came from) and it turns out this paragraph has been regurgitated across the Web on various direct mail, postcard and print vendor websites.
Seems like everyone is drinking the same juice. And, I think, a little off the mark.
Of course a printer is going to want you to use large amounts of copy to sell your product or service. If you stick with your 8-page brochure instead of scaling back to 4, there is a huge benefit for the printer. However, quantity is not a driving force in successful content marketing. It’s about quality. Statistics and examples like the one listed above are misleading because they don’t take into account the type of content provided.
Sometimes your content might warrant being 8-pages (or 800 words if we’re talking blog formats…current post included). Other times, a quick two-sentence post on your Facebook wall with a hot link could generate a ridiculous amount of conversation and engagement. If the content is appealing your audience will let you know.
Content marketing steps you can take today.
Implementing new marketing initiatives can be time consuming and lets face it, many times expensive. Here are some guidelines to help you on your way to implementing content marketing into your current marketing plan:
- Review your business goals and implement at least one content strategy that supports that goal
- Define your target audience and segment according to their needs
- Make a list of topics that relate to the products or services you offer
- Change a current sales channel into a content marketing channel
- Utilize editorial calendars for your blog, company newsletter and social media sites
- Keep an idea file, white board or stack of Post-Its to track potential topics
- Make content a priority
For specific examples of the above guidelines and additional content marketing information, download Allée’s free eBook: “Stop Selling: A Content Marketing Guide“.
Results from content marketing rarely happen over night. Stick with it and keep a schedule. As your audience becomes more aware of the type of content you’re putting out they’ll come back for more, to have conversations and to share with their friends the great things you’re talking about and doing.