A few blogs back we talked about content strategy and how it can (and should) drive successful content marketing efforts.
In this blog, we’re taking a closer look at content marketing itself — what it is and how it can be a vital part of your marketing program.
What is content marketing?
We know that content can be pretty much anything, from blog posts and eBooks to infographics and videos, and more. But simply having content available to your audience isn’t quite the same thing as content marketing.
The smarties at the Content Marketing Institute define it as “...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.” (Emphasis ours)
Where traditional marketing methods like billboards or TV commercials cast a wide net, content marketing methods are all about building connections with a specific audience. Content marketing can have a long tail, which might make marketers (and their bosses) who like instant gratification a little nervous.
But it shouldn’t.
Used in conjunction with other marketing efforts, good content marketing can help transform a lead to a long-term customer or even the ultimate goal, a brand advocate.
How it works
With a solid strategy in place and a keen understanding of your audience, you can start building out and distributing your content. How you do that depends a bit on what content pieces you’re using in your plan, but for simplicity’s sake let’s create a hypothetical example.
Let’s say you’re a toymaker and you’re about to launch a brand new, super fun toy, “The Splatterang: The ultimate slime-blasting boomerang!” You need to get buyers to stock this thing, so along with some traditional B2B marketing avenues, you’re also using content marketing as part of your strategy.
While your traditional marketing can focus on a harder sell, your content marketing can build trust between your company and buyers. In this case, content marketing pieces could include a blog with topics like “Why parents are pushing for more outdoor play this summer” or “Tactile experiences lead to happier kids” or “The science of slime.”
None of these topics are explicitly about The Splatterang, but all support it and position it as a must-have item (and your company as a trusted, forward-thinking organization).
Other content items like a monthly newsletter about toys, play, and trends, or an annual report on the state of play could all be a part of a broader content plan that gets people looking forward to receiving your content because it is relevant, engaging, and valuable to them.
The more your audience trusts you and relies on you for information, the more likely they are to feel good about buying from you not just once, but over and over again.
Ask for help
If all that sounds like a lot, you’re right. Creating quality content consistently can be labor-intensive. The good news is you don’t always need to start from scratch, do it all at once, or do it all yourself.
Take stock of what you already have in your marketing library. Chances are with a few tweaks you could repurpose a whitepaper into a blog post, or expand a customer testimonial to a case study. Ask people from other departments to share their insights with you and turn your conversation into a blog post. But remember: The key to successful content marketing is consistently shared valuable content for your audience. If the case study you have on hand doesn’t mean anything to your target audience, don’t include it in your content marketing plan. (Wait...Target who-now? Take a look at our customer persona blog post for more insight!)
If managing content for several channels at once feels overwhelming here’s a quick pro-tip: don’t. Really! Choose one and focus on that. Then, once you’ve really got it down and feel confident, add in a second. Trying to do everything at once, especially if you have a small team, is a great way to burn out and give up on content marketing all together.
Of course, you can always lean on outside help from an agency to handle the content marketing portion of your marketing plan, too. (You didn’t think we weren’t going to mention it, did you?)
No matter what your approach, find a way to make content marketing part of your overall plan. Used smartly over time, it can help transform leads from shorter-term campaigns into long-term clients.
Give your marketing plan more power with help from our award-winning content team. Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.