It’s no longer a question if your company needs to engage in content marketing (Hint: You do.) but many people don’t understand 100% what it is or why it should be such a critical piece of your marketing strategy.
It is giving. That’s it. You know things. You have an area of expertise. Content marketing is when you give that information away as often as you can in as many ways and places as you can. Then you do that all over again. It is a generous approach to marketing where you don’t trick anyone into buying anything but you make them want to buy from you for life based on your generosity.
Why should your company engage in content marketing?
In short, it works. Here are some reasons why.
1. Consumers are smart.
We are sold to constantly, so much so that it often goes in one ear and out the other. You do it too. Think about it. How often do you scroll through Facebook and open every ad that you see? Never. If you are like me, you scroll past them almost without seeing them. (There is a place for brand recognition but that’s another blog.) Have you ever “unfollowed” a business because they were always trying to sell you something? Is there a store or independent sales agent you avoid like the plague because you know you will be pressured to buy something you don’t want? Do you even notice the billboards anymore? They all promise great things. How do you differentiate?
The world of sales is loud and constant. Yet, surprisingly perhaps, we still hunger for information. We’ll spend 10 minutes reading an interesting or entertaining article. We’ll hop on social media to ask for book or movie reviews from friends. We seek out recommendations for service providers. We want information so that we can use it to make good decisions in the time and place of our choosing.
We also want non-threatening relationships. You may hate running into that pushy multi-level marketing rep but you love knowing something about the businesses that you patronize. Was the owner’s first grandchild just born? Who is that plumber you are inviting into your home? Do they have a family? Are they trustworthy? Content about business owners is just as critical as the business services. We want to trust the people we buy from. We want to know and even LIKE them. Loyalty is personal.
In short, we ignore being sold to and seek out good content and the relationships that form from it.
2. Platforms are smart.
Let’s say you own a pizza restaurant. You could build up a legion of fans by offering a special once a week on your Facebook page, but Facebook has recently changed the rules to catch posts that look like you’re trying to sell something, and has limited the number of impressions that your post will see. Even though you might have 10,000 “likes” on your page, only a few hundred might see your post.
But when you Insert Something Clever every once in a while… a funny story about the cook, a secret recipe for garlic bread, where you buy your tomatoes from, etc… Facebook sees you as a “content creator,” not just an abuser of their free platform.
Facebook, Google, Pinterest, you name it…content is king for all of them. People go to them because there is a constant supply of new information. If you are not in the content creating business, then there is no amount of key words or search engine optimization (SEO) voodoo that will get your name out there. As far as these platforms are concerned, you’ll be irrelevant. And, unfortunately, for the customer who does any type of virtual research (and that’s nearly everyone), you’ll become irrelevant too.
3. Content Marketing is just smart (and good) business.
This is the best part. Not only does creating and publishing good content draw in customers and lull the social platforms into submission, but it is the right way to do business. Think about it. You are treating your customers right by providing amazing service and giving them access to the information that they need to make a great decision about their purchase on the merits of your product, not any sleazy sales techniques. You’re getting personal with your customers again, even in an age where purchase decisions might be made without ever having a face-to-face interaction.
There is a time and place for traditional advertisements but a value cannot be placed upon the exponential exposure you gain when Aunt Sally shares your post. The information that she thinks is funny or interesting or informative is the basis for countless individuals seeing your business, while being served the content that they want. That is content marketing at it’s best.