A strategic marketing approach based around creating valuable and engaging content for your target audience to drive profitability and create brand value.
Let’s break that definition down.
While all marketing should be strategic, far too many business owners (especially small business owners) are still using shotgun marketing approaches. They may buy advertising space in printed publications, fill radio spots, or run TV commercials in the hopes that wider general exposure will drive revenue. The assumption is that simply providing more ways for people to hear about a company increases brand recognition, ultimately increasing revenue. And while this may work in some instances, it is not a very strategic approach. Content marketing is a strategic marketing tactic that defines a clear target demographic before pursuing that audience with customized content.
Content is tailored for a specific target audience to go after their needs, desires, and aspirational goals. By creating true value and engaging audiences, brands form a lasting connection that spurs purchase activity and fosters a loyal following.
In this definition content can be articles, blog posts, videos, white papers, case studies, social media posts, or anything else developed by the business to connect with consumers. In fact, content doesn’t simply involve online materials. Content more broadly encompasses offline items like product packaging, tradeshow materials, and point-of-sale displays as well.
Find out what you need to know about content marketing to succeed with this highly lucrative marketing approach!
A Departure from Traditional Marketing
Traditional marketing has basically always been a sales arm, making the two essentially interchangeable. Historically, traditional marketing has mainly focused on touting the right product/service attributes to the right audience at the right time to drive purchases.
Content marketing, however, is a departure from this traditional view of marketing, opting instead to create emotional connections with consumers first before selling to them. Additionally, the content marketing sales pitch is much softer than the traditional approach. Content marketing operates under the assumption that profit will naturally follow when a company creates value with consumers. Helping consumers by providing relevant advice, actionable information, and timely answers to questions improves brand perception and establishes the kind of bonds that encourage patronage and brand loyalty.
The cornerstone of content marketing is giving without asking.
Why is Content Marketing King?
Content marketing has been around far longer than the content buzzwords that are so popular now have been in use. While it has continued to evolve as technological advances have been made, content marketing has been around for much longer than most people imagine. For example, the original Dear Abby column that debuted in the 1950s was created to provide readers with kindhearted, friendly advice about their most troubling issues. It asked for nothing in return… except of course that you buy the newspaper in which it was printed. The concept of giving something personally valuable to readers that they could not find elsewhere was enough bait to lure in a wider readership base and make people more passionate about reading the paper regularly. This tactic spread quickly, with Dear Abby taking root in newspapers around the country.
While content marketing mechanics have become far more sophisticated than a column in a printed local newspaper, the tactics have remained the same. Meeting consumers where they are with customized content will always be a successful strategy because consumers don’t want to be sold to – they want to be understood.
Furthermore, the storytelling that emerges in content marketing compels consumers to connect with a brand, creating a meaningful, lasting relationship. These relationships not only drive purchases but also improve brand perception, increase brand advocacy, and foster brand loyalty, which is the “special sauce” of sustainable business growth.
What You Need to Know
Small business owners primarily fall into two camps when it comes to how they perceive content marketing – those that think anyone can do it and those who are completely overwhelmed by the thought of implementing it. Both views stem from a lack of understanding around content marketing, though neither are correct.
Effective content marketing requires real strategic planning and a commitment to investing resources, making it impossible to stumble into successfully. Using a professional content marketer, instead of an intern or an employee that could be better utilized elsewhere, is crucial for setting content strategy and hitting company-wide goals. Not all content is created equal. While someone in-house may be able to create content, this content is not necessarily going to be the most effective. It also may not be able to aid in meeting short-term and long-term goals. It’s always best to use an experienced content marketer to ensure maximum profitability.
Kate Pierce is the owner of LionShark Digital Marketing LLC, a West Michigan internet marketing company. Her areas of expertise include Paid Search, Search Engine Optimization, Business Blogging and Web Copywriting. She lives in the Grand Rapids area with her husband and two children and enjoys cooking, watching sports, and spending time together as a family. Like a true digital marketing expert (i.e. geek), she loves talking about current marketing trends… so don’t say you weren’t warned!