What Content Marketing Actually Means
‘Content Marketing’ is one of the buzzwords of the digital marketing world. The idea that “Content is King” was predicted by Bill Gates back in 1996, and his vision of the future has become reality.
Unfortunately, there’s also a lot of confusion about what content marketing actually is.
Whatever you think it means, you’re probably wrong. Here’s my Content Marketing for beginners guide.
Content is More Than a Blog
A lot of the misunderstanding around content marketing comes from the belief that “content” is “copy”. This is even more confused by the fact that copy used to be one of the most important ranking factors in search engine algorithms, and to some extent still is.
I have so many clients run a blog because they ‘should’ – but just put masses of crap content on it that no one will care about when they could be producing something much more useful. This could include all sorts of manuals, ebooks, templates, FAQs and how to videos.
“Content” is a multimedia term, covering not just writing but also video, radio/podcast, images, apps, software, even forums and social media groups.
Content is what you create for your audience, whether to inform, assist or entertain. It has to be interesting, it has to be useful, and above all it has to be engaging.
Marketing is More Than Sales
Mistakes people make in their content marketing efforts is focusing too much on the sales side of things. Content marketing is a long term strategy, with long term benefits.
If quick sales and short term returns are your goal – then content marketing is not your best approach.
Content marketing is about creating something useful for your audience in order to gain support, respect, authority and loyalty.
A good content marketing strategy will see visits to your site; shares, recommendations and sales increasing over time by growing your audience and boosting their opinion of you.
Too much focus on making sales immediately however, is bound to put people off.
You’ll see a much better long term return on investment if you manage to properly promote your content and get as many people involved as possible. Give them the ability to sign up for more in depth content.
The more people who are exposed to your content, and who you can get to engage with it, the better the results will be. The power is in the list!
The occasional call-to-action or reminder that you’re a business trying to make money is fine.
Turning every piece of content into a pushy sales piece isn’t the way to go, though, and shouldn’t be your main priority.
The content is what your audience needs, and the marketing is how you get it to them. Making sales – although obviously the real goal – is almost a side effect of this process. You should be marketing your content, not marketing your business.
But Why Content Marketing?
To understand how to use content marketing appropriately, you need to understand why you’re doing it, and what results to expect. Content marketing offers a great return on investment when you do it consistently and only if you produce the right content for your audience. Otherwise it’s going to get you nowhere.
Your first priority is to figure out who you’re marketing your content to.
You can’t expect to create amazing content that everyone loves unanimously, so pick your audience and create the content that they love.
You could target people who are already loyal customers, giving you an immediate audience for your content. For example we produce free videos to help our clients with common tasks they may face with their website like how to add a video or publish a blog post.
Or you could target a group who you know would find your main service useful, but who aren’t currently engaged.
Once you know who you’re creating content for, you need to decide what you’re creating.
Figure out their problems, and what you can do to solve them.
Boxing fans won’t be interested in what your gardening supplies website can do for them, but hobby chefs might enjoy information about herb gardens. It’s not about the content you want to create. It’s about the content your audience wants to receive.
Pick a platform you are most comfortable in and go for it. I’m not currently comfortable talking directly into a camera but I’m more than happy to produce written advice in blog posts, guides and emails as well as doing video tutorials.
If you are pretty charismatic and confident – get in front of the camera. If you are shy start with your blog. Trust me your confidence will grow as you go!
Slow and Steady wins the race
At first, though, your audience will be small, so you need to put in the work yourself. If you build it, they won’t necessarily come. They need to know about it too.
You have to put it out there
Finally, and most importantly, your content, no matter how good, won’t succeed without also focusing on the marketing side of things. Promote your content anywhere and everywhere you can.
Good, long-term content strategies that promote themselves well early on will build a big audience, which will help you with promotion.
I used to struggle with this side of things – The daily demands of running my business meant I would forget to schedule my tweets or shares, my facebook posts and my linkedin published post.
Now I use a tool called Meet Edgar – This allows automate my social sharing – I can set and forget my tweets and the tool will continue to share it for me.
Every day I see notifications of people following me, subscribing to my youtube videos without me touching a thing.
You also need to be looking at reaching out to influencers in your field and sharing their content and trying to get on their radar. Once your content starts to get a little traction the influencers are more likely to share your content and the results will blow up for you.
You can also use Facebook ads and content sharing platforms like Outbrain to give your content more exposure.
It Does Actually work
So any doubt to why you should be doing this? Just last week I was reminded of the power of content – I published a how to video on Youtube around 6 months ago about a CRM system called Active Campaign, simply to help our current customers that are using the system.
On Thursday last week I had a call from a pretty prosperous company asking me to do some consultancy for £200 per hour with their staff on how to use the system, all because they’d found me on youtube and found my video useful.
This just highlights the power of content marketing and giving free value.
Content marketing is more than maintaining a blog presence and hoping that it boosts your numbers. It’s about knowing your audience and their needs, then finding a way to help them meet those needs. It’s any creation or even any action that speaks to your audience, gets their attention and engages them. So when you’re creating your content marketing strategy, dig a little deeper to come up with some really amazing ideas. Don’t just build a blog and hope that people will come to you.
Thanks for reading,
Your Friendly Neighbourhood Blogger
P.S. If you find something in this post really interesting, share it with the world and comment below 🙂