It’s probably a phrase that you’ve heard bandied about in the last couple of years, especially if you have taken an interest in online or digital marketing.
It might surprise you to know that content marketing has been with us for a very long time.
But it just wasn’t called “content marketing” then.
From product brochures to in flight magazines to company newsletters-many businesses have been publishing content since the invention of the printing press, with a view to promoting themselves and their services/products.
Content marketing is effective because it is “pull marketing” as opposed to in your face “push marketing”.
Content marketing involves providing relevant, educational, engaging, useful, helpful, entertaining (and sometimes funny) information to potential users of your products and services.
Rather than telling people that you are expert in, say, tax accounting or family law, you actually show them you are an expert authority.
By providing helpful, accurate, authoritative information. You can do this on your website or blog, in a e-newsletter, in a printed newsletter, in a podcast, series of videos…the options are endless.
But the bottom line is that rather than just telling your potential clients that you are an authority, you show them.
When leads and potential new clients come to you because they are interested in what you have to say converting leads into prospects and ultimately clients is easier, a lot easier.
Direct mail, cold calling, advertising, media planning and buying can be effective, but expensive. Building up a body of content about which you can be proud and which demonstrates your expertise is a great long term investment in your business.
And the difference between attraction or permission marketing, which is a by-product of content marketing, and push or interruption marketing is like the difference between chalk and cheese.
Benefits of content marketing
- Helps people and creates value
- Builds brand recognition for you
- Builds credibility, trust, and recognition for you as content creator/provider
- Creates loyalty to you and your business
- Answers questions and helps solve customers’ problems
- Can establish an on-going relationship with your leads and customers, both old and new.
Before the internet and digital marketing, publishing, printing, and distributing newsletters was expensive.
Buying space in newspapers, magazines, on television or radio was also a significant barrier to small businesses and start ups or entrepreneurs.
Not any more.
Content Marketing Offers a Huge Opportunity to the Small Business Owner
Content marketing can now be achieved effectively and cheaply with a simple blog or website. This has been a real game changer for businesses large and small, especially smaller businesses with more limited budgets.
This has led to a catastrophic change in the traditional media world with plummeting drops in newspaper and magazine circulation and reduced advertising spend.
YouTube, email marketing, blogs, websites, rss feeds, iTunes, slide sharing sites, social media sites, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+-all these sites allow the smallest business to now become a regular publisher of anticipated, quality content.
The Content Marketing Rule
The most important rule when it comes to content marketing is that you produce good quality, helpful content. It can be written, spoken, video, or a combination of these and others.
It must be useful.
But the key is that you are committed to helping your ideal customer.
What works best is helpful information and tips for your readers. This demonstrates that you know what their problems are, that you can help them solve them, and you are the right person (on a personal level) to work with them.
As a small business owner it is time for you to start thinking like a publisher and less like an advertiser. You will find it more effective, achievable, and cost effective in the short, medium, and long term.