Content marketing is more than a buzzword. It’s a way to help grow your business and retain customers.
If you have a website and a social media account your creating content and it’s already playing a part in marketing your business. That in itself doesn’t mean that you are a content marketer but it’s a start.
This article is going to be an introduction to content marketing. We’ll talk about what it is and then break down the definition of its parts.
When you walk away, you will have a better idea of what content marketing is and how it can help your business.
What is Content Marketing
When I talk to people about content marketing one of the first things they think of is a blog. That’s an example of a channel that can be used for content marketing but that’s not exactly a definition.
The Content Marketing Institute has devoted itself to further the practice so let’s see what they have to say:
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
That’s a pretty specific definition. We have to be strategic and have to create and distribute valuable, relevant and consistent content. The goal is to attract and retain a specific audience that buys something.
Let’s break it down a little further.
Who is your Audience?
I’m going to start with the audience. It may seem kind of weird because our definition doesn’t even mention them until the near the end, but our audience is the reason why we create content.
If you don’t know your audience, all the strategy, all the content in the world won’t help. So, start this process with your audience in mind.
Let’s say you are in charge of creating content for an ophthalmologist. Your audience is going to be people who are concerned about the health of their eyes.
An independent health insurance broker will want to target people who need health insurance and are only able to purchase it via private means. This means people whose employers offer health insurance are not part of their audience.
The more specific you are about your audience, the better because you need to be creating content that speaks to their problems.
Finding Valuable Content
It goes without saying that content should be valuable. Don’t write about exercise if you’re an orthodontist whose audience are people who need to have their teeth straightened.
If your not sure what your audience finds valuable, find out. You can ask your sales team or customer service team what kind of questions they get. Better yet, if you can, ask them directly.
There are other ways to discover topics by using tools such as AnswerThePublic.
Relevance is a different consideration. How do you determine if something is relevant or not? I’m going to give you a simple guide to help you decide.
Ask yourself, “Where does the content fit in with the customer journey?” A marketing funnel will help you determine this.
You’re going to find many different marketing funnels out there but I try to keep it simple. I define the marketing funnel as: Awareness > Interest > Consideration > Conversion > Retention > Evangelism.
Where does content fall in the marketing funnel? Is your goal to make your audience interested or is it to push them from consideration to conversion.
Ultimately, you should have content for each of these stages and it should always be helpful.
A strategy isn’t always a given. There are organizations and individuals that have literally stumbled into success. There was no strategy. They just did what they did and it worked.
However, it’s hard to maintain success without a strategy so it is important to be thoughtful about our actions. This is the difference between moving with intent and throwing things against the wall to see if they work.
You may only have one shot. If people don’t find something they find interesting, you may never see them again.
Know what your goals are with your content and know where it fits within the marketing funnel. Are you trying to show that you are a thought leader? Is the content top of the funnel or lower in the funnel? Is it for potential customers or current customers?
The Right Content at the Right Time
When most people think of marketing they think of reach. How many people can I get my message in front of? Mass media is great for this but it’s hard to judge how effective it is. It’s also losing those eyeballs to other mediums.
We listen to music and watch television and movies on demand. We find news on social media. Simply, stated the world has changed and so should your marketing.
Earlier, we talked about creating valuable content. It’s not what you think is valuable but what your customer finds valuable.
It’s the same with the time. Your customers will search when it’s convenient for them. You need to create the right content that can be found at the right time.
Content marketing is a great tool to help grow your business but there are important pieces to it. You need to know your audience so you can create content that is valuable and relevant. Strategy is also an important piece that can’t be ignored.
Most importantly, while it is a marketing tactic, to succeed you have to remember one thing: It’s not about you, it’s about your customers.
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