You’ve heard the squawking before...
A plethora of platitudes thrown around that emphasize the importance of content marketing – but few entrepreneurs have a genuine understanding of what it actually means.
In this article, we will clear the air, once and for all!
Let's start with - What Content Marketing Isn’t:
Content marketing is: a strategic multimedia marketing approach that aims to get relevant and valuable content in front of a clearly defined audience with the intent of driving profitable customer action.
It’s this kind of communication from your brand to your audience that gets people:
Content marketing makes use of everything from podcasts, videos, blogs, and social media sites as a means to gather, convert, and retain interested users.
In real person speak: Content marketing is the #1 thing you can do to build your brand & grow your sales. Period.
Today’s businesses are dealing with the greatest attention shortage in our history.
Billions of people are not only making daily use of the Internet, they’re also getting bombarded from every direction with messages and notifications from their friends on multiple social media platforms, as well as by advertisements virtually everywhere as well.
Content is king – that point is valid. But we live in a world where there are many kings.
What used to be a keen and insightful strategy is now simply your ticket into the arena.
Every one of your competitors with a digital presence is likely leveraging some form of content to advance their business needs.
Content marketing is all about telling a story.
We’ve been drawn to a good story ever since our ancestors huddled around a fire and started telling tales.
Stories capture our imagination and help to give us some sort of purpose.
In much the same way, content helps lure the reader into a subject matter and position the brand as a guide to their knowledge journey.
This is largely why the content on Oprah Winfrey’s show, Tim Ferriss’s blog, and Joe Rogan’s podcast perform so well.
These brands, or the hosts in this case, have established themselves as authorities by providing their audience with:
The above items combined with excellent storytelling is a powerful combination for brands to make an impression in their niche and establish themselves as an authority.
The best content marketing strategies are built on a strong foundation of:
Content strategy is the whole kit and caboodle when it comes to content.
Content strategy refers to everything that goes into content, from the keyword research (overlaps into SEO), content calendar creation, the production of the content, the posting and optimizing of the content, and the many different types of distribution (content marketing).
Simply put, your content strategy is a map, or blueprint, of the magical castle you plan to build.
There are many overlapping and interconnected parts that require excellent planning & execution.
We recommend building out a full content strategy before you start writing your articles, like so:
Want help creating a content strategy for your business?
It’s worth noting that content strategy isn’t necessarily synonymous with content marketing.
Content strategy refers to the end-to-end planning of content, and content marketing is included in this umbrella.
Content strategy is a brand’s blueprint that covers every piece of content used to accomplish its business goals.
A robust content strategy helps you answer questions like:
Once you’ve settled some of the broader questions, it’s good to get a little more granular:
Now that we’ve covered content strategy, let’s gloss over content marketing.
Content marketing is best viewed as a soft sales approach that is the vehicle to deliver the content you’ve made to your audience. It’s usually a unique combination of organic marketing (SEO) and direct sales (email).
What makes content stand out in this capacity is that it doesn’t come off as overly salesy.
Each piece of content aims to deliver some sort of value to the reader while simultaneously warming them up to your brand and a call to action in the future.
Content marketing means designated particular audiences that you want to get your content to, and then finding a way to get it in front of them.
That’s where the “marketing” component comes in – where do these audiences spend time and how can you get your content there?
For example, let’s say you’re an online plant Shopify store. You’ve narrowed down your demographic to the booming market of Millennials who want plants (yes, it’s a real thing.)
After doing some customer research, you find that many Millennials might have green wallets (open to spending money on plants), but not green thumbs (their plants keep dying).
So, you come up with a few article ideas:
You write, or commission, the articles with a conversational, friendly, and informative tone filled with practical examples (such as the one above.) The article goes live – it’s beautiful and reads effortlessly.
Now, the next step is getting that article in front of your audience.
A skilled marketer may choose to use Facebook to target a lookalike audience of people that have purchased from your site before, but instead of sending them to a product page, the ads send them to one of the three articles.
People will not only be likely to click on one of those articles if the topic is relevant to them, which this hypothesis assumes they will be, but they’ll also view your company as one that knows what it’s doing.
Readers may also be inclined to subscribe to your email list for more plant tips, purchase something from your site (plant, plant feeding kits, etc.), or simply share the article with someone else.
There are dozens of different content formats, as seen by this list created by Hubspot.
Content comes in many shapes and sizes, and the key is to find which type of content a particular audience responds to the best.
For example, infographics and images appeal to our visual senses and tend to get shared more often on platforms such as Pinterest, whereas long-form articles generally tend to do deeper educational dives with more specific calls to action.
Content marketing is one of the most important parts of your overall content strategy.
The content you create is essentially a fixed cost that turns into a sunken investment if you don’t do anything with it.
An excellent content marketing strategy can help you get much more out of your content for months, and potentially years to come.