In a world of social media where everyone is a critic, journalist or publisher, good content is essential and it’s definitely the way to your customers’ hearts. Strangely, it seems that the world is only just waking up to this rather obvious fact and everywhere you look at the moment, it’s all about ‘content marketing’ and ‘content generation’. I say obvious because good marketing has always been nigh on impossible without decent, well-targeted, and properly distributed content.
Raise your profile and build trust with informative content
In the old days marketers were keen to broadcast – which was much more about talking at the world. Now the trend is for having conversations, exchanging information and, more importantly, listening. The audience is more in control of what they look at, how and when they pick it up, and whether or not they choose to share it with their peers. Businesses are coming around to the idea that clever use of non-promotional and informative content can be a good way to raise profile, add value and create dialogue with new and existing customers.
Whether it’s content on your website, a blog or whitepaper, what you write can have an impact on how your business is perceived. We generally warm towards those who help us by keeping us informed of the things that we need to know. We are more likely to trust companies that willingly provide us with free information and resources on the issues that concern us. Whether it’s the latest developments in our industry, changes in legislation, or tips on how to run our business, every little bit helps. Those companies that make it easy for us to keep on top of things will win our trust and we will be more willing to talk to them, buy from them, and trust their brand, when they eventually do come calling.
It is often the case that google searches are conducted by people who are looking for solutions to a problem, rather than a product to buy, and at that stage they want expertise. Content marketing is largely about fulfilling that need for knowledge. It’s the process that makes useful and interesting content easily available to customers and potential customers and makes it easy for them to find and share… and of course it helps if it links back to you the publisher as a trusted resource. Sharing information is a good way to deliver added value.
So what’s new?
Good content has always been crucial to marketing – there’s nothing new about that. What is new is the difference that social media has made – we now have more control of how and where we distribute our content, and with the advent of channels like Youtube, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook, it is much easier for any and all of us to be content publishers.
However, be warned, audiences are sophisticated and take a dim view of what might be seen as thinly disguised and uninvited advertising in their networks. They don’t want to be sold to and they will punish anyone who enters their space to try. That is not what content marketing is about. This is an opportunity for businesses to engage with their audiences and show that they are interesting, as well as interested in helping them with the day-to-day.
What to consider for successful content marketing:
- Good content that addresses the needs of customers and potential customers can have the added bonus of raising awareness of the expertise within your business and that of the business as a trusted resource. But before you start getting all creative, make sure you know who your audience is, what their key concerns are, where they go to look for solutions, and that you can get your content to them. The right content in the wrong place is a waste of time and energy.
- Take some time to research the key distribution channels and choose the right ones for your content and your audience. Key channels include blogs (yours or other people’s), Twitter, LinkedIn groups and discussions, filesharing sites like Youtube and Flickr, and bookmarking sites like diggit, stumbleupon and reddit.
- Sprinkle your content with keywords and it will be easier for search engines, and therefore your potential audience, to find it – it could also help to get your business on the front page. However, don’t forget that your content is for humans not machines.
- Customers and potential customers are not the only ones looking for information. Good, helpful content could also get you, and your business, noticed by those with influence and journalists looking for stories and industry experts to interview.
- If you publish and manage your own content you will have more control over what people read about you. That said you should also monitor the chatter so that you can respond to any reactions to what you do say.
- Content marketing at a basic level will cost little more than your time. Beyond that you can spend as much or as little as you like on producing the actual content.
How have you used content marketing in your business and what sort of results did you see? Which strategies proved to be the most effective? We’d love to hear your comments, so please do post below and share your experiences.
About the author: Deborah Rowe, Consultant, Sheba Marketing
Deborah is a chartered marketer, member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, and fellow of both the Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing and the RSA. She has more than 20 years of solid marketing and communications experience which she puts to good use as principal consultant of Sheba Marketing. Sheba Marketing provides no-nonsense business-to-business marketing support to small and medium-sized organisations that want to achieve great things. www.shebamarketing.co.uk