The rules have changed. Just look around. Traditional advertising and marketing are seen less as the MUSTS they once were and more as just noise to be avoided at all costs.
In fact, a new form of marketing seems to be replacing the traditional version. This one relies more on pull than push; word of mouth over broadcast; and reputation over name recognition. It is content marketing and if you own a business or market one and you aren’t familiar with the term, it’s time for a little crash course.
What is Content Marketing?
According to Wikipedia, “Content marketing is an umbrella term encompassing all marketing formats that involve the creation and sharing of content in order to attract, acquire and engage clearly defined and understood current and potential consumer bases with the objective of driving profitable customer action. Content marketing subscribes to the notion that delivering information to prospects and customers drives profitable consumer action.”
Why Do Businesses Need to Generate Content?
The BIGGEST reason a company or organization doing business in 2012 needs to generate content is internet search ranking. If you want to be found on the internet, you need to do whatever you can to make search engines such as Google like your site. Over the years Google has adjusted it’s algorithm with the intent of nurturing a worldwide web that is chock full of quality content. Therefore the BEST way to rank higher in searches for the keywords your customers or clients might use to find you on the internet is to generate quality content on a regular basis.
What is Quality Content?
Think about it. When you search the internet how do you feel when you go to a site thinking it’s going to help you but all it does is provide useless information, bog down your computer with pop-ups and gives you the hard sell? Then you click on a link that looks like it’s going to give you better information and it just takes you to a page with the exact same content. That’s what Google and other search engines like Bing DON’T want the internet experience to be like (I would think it’s just self-preservation on their part.)
But more than this, quality online content is:
- What it purports to be – not a bait & switch trick
- Easy to read and understand
- Aesthetically pleasing
- Specific to the reader
A business blog can be used to address customer pain points or questions. It can be used to build brand recognition by addressing key industry issues. And it can be used the way that magazines and newspapers are used – as information resources sponsored by advertising (the company on whose site it resides.)
How Do You Promote Your Content?
If you build it, they won’t come unless you are making friends and promoting it in online communities where they congregate. Even if you’ve created an amazing blog through which you provide useful information every day, it will be a ghost town unless you have found and are actively engaging with a community that will appreciate it. So effective content marketing is a three step process:
1 – Find and engage with your community online.
2 – Generate quality content on a regular basis.
3 – Promote that content within your community online.
What Are the Other Benefits of Generating Quality Content?
Though a powerful reason to start that company blog, search engine optimization (SEO) isn’t the only reason to implement a strong content marketing strategy. Establishing your company as a thought leader adds credibility and is likely to attract new business. Content can be the first stop in a well designed sales funnel that includes landing pages and calls to action. Also, when you activate and interact with your audience, you begin to build community around your brand right there on your website.
Content marketing isn’t rocket science. At it’s core it is a more human approach that revolves around educating and helping others as a way of building relationships and a positive reputation. It’s an approach that takes time to implement but eventually pays great dividends in loyal customers, brand ambassadors, a supportive community, honest and useful feedback AND prime ranking on the search engines.