If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times: “Content is king!” The phrase may be overused, but its message rings true.
Much of your company’s success is driven by how people perceive your brand in the marketplace. It is a major factor in whether or not they want to buy your products and services. Nowadays, there are so many marketing outlets to consider that it is increasingly harder to stand out from competitors. A corporate Facebook page with thousands of “likes” is okay—but to truly elevate your visibility and brand image, content marketing is the answer (in fact, this blog post is an example of such…).
So what is content marketing, exactly?
Content marketing is all about creating and distributing relevant articles, information, videos, etc.—to attract and engage a clearly defined target audience. The end goal, in turn, is to drive profitable customer action.
In other words, the idea is to create interesting content that speaks to clients and prospects without trying to sell them anything overtly. Packaging and disseminating useful content in a thoughtful way also positions your company as a thought leader and showcases your expertise.
Companies that have successfully used content marketing include P&G, John Deere, Xerox, Microsoft, and Cisco, as well as many smaller companies. And the trend is certainly on the rise–a recent survey from BtoB Magazine showed that 57% of marketers expect to be “very” or “fully” engaged in content marketing in 2014.
What’s the best way to get content in front of target clients and prospects?
here are many platforms that can help you reach your target audience—including social media, email, and web-based channels. While you can get by using one or two of them, an integrated approach increases your footprint exponentially.
LinkedIn and Twitter are great tools for reaching the business-to-business market, and include useful features to help you connect with your intended audience. Additionally, Facebook and YouTube are increasingly being used in the business-to-business world. It is important to post, interact, and contribute often—but not so much that you annoy your audience.
Your social media strategy should fold into your overall marketing strategy with content playing a major role throughout. Your larger content efforts can include articles, blogging, white papers, webcasts, and more—woven into social channels but also distributed at events, meetings, etc. And the good news is that you don’t have to be a journalist to be a good content marketer. Relevant, valuable information—when packaged and distributed thoughtfully—speaks for itself.
Email isn’t dead
In some ways, email can almost feel antiquated in the current environment, but its usefulness should not be underestimated as part of your content marketing efforts. Email communication remains a powerful direct line to customers and prospects, and offers an avenue for customized content. Getting your most relevant articles, white papers, webcast invites, etc. directly into someone’s inbox is a proverbial “foot in the door” that can lead to conversion. In fact, email-marketing conversion rates remain high—and, because of its direct nature, email is more likely to prompt customer follow-though than social media.
Video brings your content to life
When you are putting together a content-marketing plan, video and webcasting are worth consideration. The cost to record and distribute content is minimal—and the end product is easily shareable.
For complicated or in-depth topics, video may lend itself as an effective means of breaking down and deploying information. It works equally well for simple content that you want to bring to life—and you can play around with formats including interviews, panel discussions, and slide presentations.
Where to Begin?
A good place to start, before you dive into elaborate new campaigns, is with a content-marketing goal. Are you trying to engage a particular portion of your audience? Connect with new leads? Generate buzz for a new product or service? Then, once you know what you’re trying to do and whom you’re trying to reach, you can take an inventory of your existing assets—to see if you have what you need or whether you need to shift resources or hire an outside firm.
Always make sure your content is easily shareable and links back to your company’s website. And whatever format, method, and channels you decide to use, be sure to track how your content is performing. You might find there is a particular topic your audience wants more of—or, if an article or video isn’t getting traction, you may need to change gears. The bottom line: content marketing is here to stay—so I encourage you to jump in and make the most of it!