The Simple Definition of Content Marketing
As the number of ways to reach people online continues to grow and expand, quality content becomes ever more important. Good content engages and builds trust. Good content marketing takes that one step further by driving conversion.
Good content marketing communicates with potential customers without having to sell them.
It’s content that delivers value related to your business, in a way that doesn’t come across like an advertisement.
For example, I remember once I was searching for something related to teeth. I don’t even remember what the search query was, but I remember one of the first results was a page from Colgate. It wasn’t telling me to buy their toothpaste — it was simply providing the answer I needed at the time about teeth.
Every business is capable of this. No matter what product you sell or what service you offer, there is content your potential customers are looking for and questions they are asking. If you’re there to answer, you’re one step closer to converting them into customers.
You may be wondering, such as in my toothpaste example, how does providing answers to certain questions lead to a sale? It’s all about content + value + timing.
Content marketing starts with — shockingly — content. You have to produce content. Consistently. For a long time. A good content marketing strategy cannot revolve around one piece of content or one campaign. It has to be always-on, always-delivering, always-providing. That is the core difference between successful content marketers, and those who can’t quite make it work. You have to keep going, keeping trying, learning from failures and building on successes until you get into content your groove. There are many tools available to help make this process more streamlined; use them! Find the system that works for you in order to support consistent content creation.
Content In Action: I follow several of my fellow Georgia State University alumni (go Panthers!) on social media. One of them is a young lady who is now an entrepreneurship attorney. She posts lots of great content on Instagram about entrepreneurship and about her own successes. I enjoy following her and I find her very inspirational. As a budding entrepreneur myself, I love seeing others who aren’t so different from me, accomplishing what I want to accomplish!
Providing Content of Value
In addition to establishing a steady pace of creating content, it has to be content of value. It has to educate, or inspire, or entertainment, or uplift. It cannot just be content for content’s sake; it has to be content that serves a purpose, and that purpose should be determined by who your desired customers are. Make sure you create customer personas that help you focus your content and understand what makes your potential buyers click.
Content in Action: Recently my attorney friend posted about a free webinar offering several tips for starting your own business. After seeing everything else she had been sharing, I wasted no time signing up. When I signed up, I had to fill out a form and provide my email and some other information. After the webinar, she offered some additional services at a discount because we had attended the webinar, including a free copy of her e-book. After that I decided to contact her and have a consultation about the services she can provide to help me start my business.
Providing Content of Value When People Need It
Providing content? Check. Valuable content? Check. The final piece of the content marketing picture is to provide that valuable content at the moment when potential customers need it and are most likely to respond. This involves understanding the buyer journey (also called the marketing funnel), and specifically, your buyer’s journey and how content along the way can help drive them to purchase.
Content in Action: My attorney friend started with Awareness content. She began posting things on Instagram to let her followers know that she’s now a practicing entrepreneurship attorney, and she is good enough to have written a book, done a few TV gigs, and have already grown a pretty solid business.
Then she moved into Consideration content. This is content that would only be interesting to someone who knows her, and is thinking about using the types services she provides. That was the webinar and the free e-book. If she had started there, without Awareness content, she would not have been as successful. I’d be asking myself why should I go to her webinar? What does she really know about these topics? But because she laid a good foundation with Awareness content, the webinar was a hit. She knew she’d be able to reach people like myself who are young entrepreneurs in the market for an attorney like her.
Then she moved into Decision content. Once we attended the webinar and received the e-book, she sent a few emails (smartly captured in exchange for the free webinar) offering us her paid course designed to help us jumpstart our businesses. Though I didn’t sign up for a course, I set up a consultation (a $75 investment) and am considering additional services.
Next I’m sure there will be some Nurture content, such as her sharing other stories of success, and offering other services that support the business once it is already established.
Content is the fuel that powers a successful marketing campaign. Good content should attract, nurture, persuade, and make customers want to promote and advocate.
So what is content marketing? It is providing content of value when your potential customers need it, designed to move them along their journey and create brand advocates.
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