Do the “yellow pages” not get delivered door to door anymore? Each house used to get three or four a year, filled with local companies paying for placement, some named with successive “A’s” or “1′s” to claim the top of the list. A lot of the other legacy advertising standards have gone missing, too. DVR’s skip joyfully over TV
commercials (except on Super Bowl Sunday), newspaper companies are folding and consolidating left and right, and nobody at the office wants to touch the faxed travel specials.
OK, so what is Content Marketing?
Here’s a novel concept: deliver information that your ideal customers care about, and are even searching for…….. Consistently……….. Without pitching your product like an infomercial host. By educating potential buyers and becoming a trusted purveyor of intelligence, your product or service may have its best chance at being chosen when your now-devoted followers are ready to buy.
Essentially, content marketing isn’t really marketing in the traditional sense at all. It is more like training or educating prospects in your area of expertise with relevant and timely information. The ultimate goal is to impact customer buying behavior by weaving timely and relevant information through each part of your strategic marketing approach.
Why should I care?
If you are looking to grow your business in an environment of ever-shortening attention spans and vast amounts of readily-available information – where even small children know how to “Google it!” – a content-focused approach might be your best strategy.
Consider for a moment the typical consumer researching a purchase. Without the trusty yellow pages handy, they probably typed a search term into a search engine and browsed the first several choices, evaluating the few lines of visible text. If the description catches their interest, a lost half-hour of clicking and reading leads them from site to site, maybe to watch a short video or two, with only the most engaging content keeping their interest.
Each of those steps was prodded by content marketing, with the best content likely winning the customer.
What does it look like?
Content marketing can take about any form you can dream up, but not everyone has the same marketing budget as Microsoft and Cisco. Fortunately for small business owners, there are several approaches that are not a heavy lift in cost or time.
How To Videos: The Home Depot figured out over 30 years ago that it was possible to make a profit while helping people “do it yourself.” Empowering consumers can put you quickly in the role of expert if you can teach others how to succeed at something they’ve never tried before.
Buyers’ Guides: Americans love a good deal. Teach them how to identify and purchase the best, including smart questions to ask, traps to avoid, and signs to look for. But first, make sure your company measures up!
eBooks: Gone are the days of needing a publisher’s permission to write your manifesto. eBooks are perfect for topics you know well, but that require more detail than a buyer’s guide. When selecting topics, think about your customer’s pain points and show them how to solve their problems. This will turn your eBook into a lead generation machine.
Quick tip: writing an eBook will go much smoother if you have a few blog posts under your belt. Speaking of blog posts…
Blogging: In case you haven’t figured it out by now, this blog about content marketing is itself…a form of content marketing. Keep an interesting flow of content on your site to stimulate readers on a variety of topics, both within your company’s wheelhouse (yes, content marketing is at the center of what we do) and in related topics that might interest your target market (check out 5 Quick Ways to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile).
There are many more forms that content marketing can take, but the key is to start the flow of information. New ideas begin to branch off once the momentum, experience and interested readers, carry you.
What does it look like? I want to see some good Content Marketing.
This company received 42 million views, full retail distribution and millions in sales that started with a $500 video about bad breath.
These investment gurus went from startup to selling for $170 million in three years, and their blog was a big part of it.
These guys signed up 12,000 new mail order customers in 2 days, thanks to a video that cost $4,500.
These results are amazing, and admittedly atypical, but we are seeing companies reach their goals by taking simple steps in content marketing. Check out this case study featuring a local hazardous waste company we guided in reaching the elusive next level. Providing timely and relevant, maybe even humorous, information to customers will set your business apart.
Oh, and for the record, it’s OK if you sometimes miss the simpler days of the yellow pages.
What the @#$% is Content Marketing?