You just heard someone mention “content marketing” and you have the idea that you should already know what it is, but you are too embarrassed to ask someone. Congratulations, this post is for you.
The Content Marketing Institute, an online source of information on everything related to content marketing, defines content marketing as follows
Content marketing is a marketing technique that consists of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience, with the goal of driving profitable customer action.
The keyword here is “valuable”. It is what changes this definition from one that could describe almost any form of advertising or marketing. You can tell if the content is the type that could be part of a content marketing campaign if people search for it if people want to consume it, rather than avoid it. So the 2014 VW “Game Day” ad, which has been viewed on YouTube nearly 18 million times at the time of this writing, was it an ad or content marketing? The answer is that it is both, depending on how each individual who is exposed to it receives it. The same will happen with any piece of content marketing that you create, depending on whether the recipient received value from it or not. Of course, the goal is to provide the maximum value of your content marketing to as much of your target audience as possible. At this point, despite this definition and explanation, you are probably still wondering what exactly content marketing is. We can get more clarity by considering some examples.
Five examples of content marketing
There are as many types of content marketing as there are types of content, too many to cover here. My intention is to give you an introduction to content marketing and to make you think like a content marketer so that you see the opportunities around you. Soon you will come up with 50 content marketing ideas every day. You will not be able to stop seeing opportunities to create content. Here are five examples to get your mind drifting.
- Infographic. These are typically long, vertical charts that include statistics, charts, graphs, and other information. If you need some examples, here are 197 infographics on the subject of content marketing by Michael Schmitz, Head of Content Lab at Publicis, Munich. Infographics can be effective because if they are good they can be spread on social media and posted on websites for years. You can get a professionally designed infographic by hiring a contractor on a site like oDesk, or if you want to eliminate some of the risks, you can turn to a company like Visua.ly. A decent infographic design typically costs at least $ 1,000, but it can cost several thousand dollars if you hire a contractor or agency to include strategy and planning, research, writing, and design. You also have to promote that infographic among bloggers and the media. You can also create a Pinterest board and collect infographics on a topic related to your business. That’s also a form of content marketing, and it costs nothing more than your time. Hey, it worked for Michael.
- Web pages. What is the difference between a normal web page and a web page that is content marketing? Consider the Beginner’s Guide to SEO from Moz, a provider of SEO-related tools and resources. This resource, which is offered for free, has been viewed millions of times, attracting countless customers who otherwise would never have stumbled upon Moz and the services they offer. Or take a look at a case study from design company Teehan + Lax. Most case studies are boring. His case studies are fascinating. That is the difference between simply putting content on your website and content marketing.
- Podcasts. Michael Hyatt, author of the best-selling Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, practices what he preaches. His podcast “This Is Your Life” is downloaded 250,000 times a month. As Hyatt explains on his blog 4 Reasons You Should Consider Launching Your Own Podcast: “A podcast gives you visibility in a completely different world, mainly on iTunes. I’ve had dozens of people news that told me they had never heard of me until they bumped into me on iTunes. ” Hyatt offers valuable information and advice on his podcast, all for free. But that podcast leads to more sales of his books, enrollment in his courses, and requests for him as a speaker.
- Videos. Gary Vaynerchuk is a master of content marketing using online videos, just take a look at his YouTube channel. He started out creating videos to promote his family’s wine store, and through those videos and other types of online marketing, he ended up turning it into a $ 45 million empire. Videos and podcasts are a very little exploited form of content marketing because people think it is expensive and difficult. But with the cost of professional equipment falling, creating high-quality video and audio content is easier than ever. Amateur video content marketing has been used to sell mixers, launch new dental products, and market visa consulting services in Hong Kong. What video could you prepare for your company that will change its fortunes overnight? It could be easier than you think.
- Books. Like movies, people often think that books sell themselves, but marketers don’t sell books just to sell them, they sell them as marketing tools. Michael Port’s Book Yourself Solid Sales Manual is a great read for entrepreneurs, marketers, and salespeople, and while I’m sure Port enjoys selling his book, the book is a tool for driving clients to his coaching and conference services. . Although self-publishing makes it easier than ever to publish a book, there remains a perception that it is difficult and that only reputable professionals can publish a business book. Post yours and even if people don’t read it, you can use it as a form of content marketing every time you are introduced as “Author of …”
These are just a few examples of content marketing. You could also have mentioned white papers, e-books, apps, public speaking, presentations, and blogs. Entire books have been written on the use of each of them in content marketing efforts.
Why content marketing?
Perhaps more important than understanding what content marketing is, is understanding why content marketing is important to your business. First of all, we have to understand the four steps of the buying cycle:
- Awareness. Before awareness, a customer may have a need but is not aware that there is a solution.
- Research. Once the client is aware that there is a solution, she will investigate to find out. For example, a car buyer will try to find out what types of cars exist and which one suits his needs.
- Consideration. At this point, the customer begins to compare different products from different suppliers to ensure that he is purchasing a high-quality product at a fair price.
- Buy. Finally, the customer makes his decision and goes ahead with the transaction.
Traditional advertising and marketing are great when it comes to the second two steps. Content marketing takes advantage of the first two stages of the buying process by publicizing solutions and educating consumers about a product they may never have considered before.
At my own company, we have used content marketing to grow more than 1,000% in the last year. Potential clients find our content, give it value, and when they contact us, they are already convinced that they want to work with us. We don’t have to employ any high-pressure sales tactic, it’s just a matter of working out the details, signing an agreement, and getting started. The trust that is often necessary during an extended sales cycle has already been built before we know the potential customer exists.
The return on investment in content marketing can be phenomenal if executed correctly. We haven’t spent a penny on our own content marketing, not even that long. 95% of the success we’ve experienced with content marketing can be attributed to a handful of articles I’ve written, totaling perhaps 20 hours of work.
Content marketing also provides additional benefits as it supports other digital marketing channels. It provides additional content for social media marketing and contributes to SEO efforts by generating natural inbound links and building good content on your website that is found in search engines. In fact, for many companies, the majority of their SEO efforts should focus on content marketing.
How do I get started?
There are many companies that offer content marketing services, often combined with SEO or public relations. If you are too busy to do it yourself and not ready to handle it internally, hiring a company maybe your best option. But if you want to launch your own content marketing, the easiest way is to start blogging. It will probably be difficult at first, but the more you do it, the better you will do. By following the advice of websites like Copyblogger, you will quickly learn how to create content for your website or blog that attracts readers and converts them into customers. But while good technical writing and the right headlines can help, they are not the key to creating great content, which is the best form of content marketing.
If you’ve ever had to strain to read a marketing article and only finished reading it because you had to, then you’ve experienced poor content marketing. When I talk to companies about content marketing, I tell them that content is good if they really want to read it. Content is good if you are willing to pay to read it. If you want to see great examples of content, just look at what you’ve paid to read, watch or listen to lately. If you’ve seen The Lego Movie this year, you’ve seen one of the best examples of content marketing to date. Did you think they made that movie to sell movie tickets? Think again. It was a 100-minute toy commercial, and instead of using a DVR to skip it, you paid good money to watch it. Is it a coincidence that Lego recently surpassed Mattel, the creators of Barbie, to become the world’s largest toy company? You may not have the budget to make a feature film to promote your business, but you can give potential clients valuable information.
The # 1 secret of content marketing
Add value. That the secret. It’s not really a secret at all. We have already talked about it throughout this article. Although when you look at some of the marketing companies that do it, you wonder if they are avoiding the obvious on purpose. We ignore advertising when it provides little or no value. If you want to learn about no-skip advertising, find a skateboarder and ask if you can see him flipping through a skate magazine. You will see that he spends as much time looking at the ads as the articles and photos. Or check out The Berrics website. Much of the content is commercials, but skaters don’t skip these videos, they watch them the same way they watch other videos because they get the value they want: good skating. As a skater, I’d like to say those skateboard companies pioneered content marketing decades ago, but I know that they only did what came naturally to them and that selling more products was secondary to the fun of creating videos and journals. If you want to hire someone on your marketing team who understands content marketing intuitively, hiring a skateboarder might not be a bad step.
If you are not sure how you can add value through content marketing, ask your current customers what type of content you can produce that is useful to them now or that has been useful when they were searching for your product or service. They will tell you.
How can I find out more?
Read Joe Pulizzi’s excellent book Epic Content Marketing. I started reading him after writing this post and he confirmed and expanded on what I already knew about content marketing, in much more detail than I could go into here. Something that Pulizzi emphasizes and that I originally put aside was the importance of focusing on producing mobile-friendly content, as smartphones are becoming the dominant way that most of our customers access the content. Also read the Michael Hyatt Platform, mentioned above. Frequent websites like the Content Marketing Institute, Ragan, Copyblogger, Michael Hyatt, and Gary Vaynerchuk and subscribe to their email newsletters. It won’t take long for you to become not just a content marketing family member, but an expert.
Most companies are not doing true content marketing … yet. So you will have an advantage if you jump. Let me know how it goes.