Content marketing is one of the buzzwords still being tossed around by online marketers looking to up their cred as having their finger on the digital pulse. Despite the incessant use of the term, many people still don’t know what it is or what it is used for.
The better you understand the strategy, the sooner and more efficiently you can put it to work for you.
What is content marketing?
I’ll split the answer into two parts to make things clear.
What it isn’t
One of the odd things about this strategy is that you shouldn’t approach it as marketing at all. In fact, the less you try to sell, the better it works!
Content that meets the definition of ‘content marketing’ material is not written in an SEO or sales copy style. Nor is it an advertorial or boastful in any way.
OK, but what does that leave us?
What content marketing is
Content marketing is designed to build your organisation’s position as leaders in your field who provide useful information at no cost. It’s a reputation building exercise, not a sales activity.
The content doesn’t have to be in text form either. It could be video or audio material and may be delivered via a number of devices and channels.
It may sound a little counter-intuitive for a business to give something away for free that you may otherwise sell, but this act sends a very powerful signal to potential leads. The brand equity and trust that you will earn by offering useful content is also very effective in nurturing leads and retaining customers.
As long as the content is genuinely useful to your readers and provided at no cost or with any strings attached, you can label it content marketing.
Is this page content marketing?
There is no clear answer – I know, weird. Some people may assess the page and decide that I have made an effort to make it SEO friendly. Others may say no, it’s just a (great ;) article that is useful to me – so it is content marketing.
Given the inclusion of the link above, that points to another page on this website, my own opinion is tilting towards calling this an SEOish page.
It is this broad scope that allows content marketing to double as a useful tool for SEO. If people link to this article or share it socially then it undoubtedly boosts the page in an SEO sense, no matter how much I call it content marketing.
The bottom line is, it doesn’t matter what you call it. Both content marketing and SEO are hugely beneficial to your overall online marketing so don’t get caught up in semantics.
Your best content marketing resource
The best resource for content marketing is already in your possession.
The people within your organisation who know your products or services are ideal candidates for producing content marketing material. Better yet, the staff who interact most frequently with your clients or customers will have a deep insight into what interests them. Use this to your advantage by getting these staff involved in your content production process.
While you can easily develop a list of staff who have the knowledge, not everyone has the time or ability to write so you may need to get creative if you are to produce a constant stream of content. You always have the option of hiring professional writers but this is rarely cheap or quick. Besides, you’d have to provide drafts or fact sheets to assist external writers in getting to know the subject for each piece of content.
Your experienced staff will have a ton of information that will be useful to your readers. Experience and tacit information learned on the job can immediately guide your readers towards solving their problems or helping them in some way. Try to make this source work first, and only seek help from external writers if it is clear the task can’t be done internally.
What happens when you produce good content?
If you get content marketing right there are a number of flow-on effects that will benefit your business. Here are just a few:
- An increased probability that your readers will share your content online, expanding your reach.
- Despite not being focused on SEO, good content is always helpful for SEO.
- As mentioned earlier, you establish your organisation as well informed and a source for useful guidance.
- When staff are engaged for their input they feel empowered and more valued.
- If your contributors are from within your business then you add personality to your brand.
Additionally, a couple clients that I consulted for on getting started with content marketing have told me of another benefit. They stated that simply by going through the process of producing content marketing material, they found themselves rethinking how they position their services across all marketing channels.
I’m hoping that you now have a good idea as to what content marketing is and what it’s used for, if you didn’t already. It is a strategy that I urge you to start using right away if you have the resources.
Hire a consultant if you have the budget and are not used to planning or managing online content production. While your internal resources are crucial to making content marketing work, an outsider with planning experience can provide extremely useful insight into what your public may be looking for and how you are perceived.
If you still have questions then by all means add them to the comments below and I’ll answer them soon after.