Like other organizations, your business is likely wrestling with a convergence of changes that are upending the familiar tactics you’ve always used to communicate with prospects and customers.
Growing demographic diversity, the adoption of interactive technologies, and evolving media consumption habits have altered how consumers get information and how they perceive branded communication messages.
As you grapple with how to speak effectively with today’s consumers, you’ve likely heard about something called “content marketing.” Maybe you’ve read about it in an article, or perhaps a colleague or consultant has suggested it to you.
But before you dive in, you need to learn more. What is content marketing anyway? Is it just a fad? Does it actually mean anything, or is it just a cool-sounding buzzword? Could it actually help you achieve your objectives? And if so, how?
First, we define content marketing for you. Second, we show you why content marketing should be part of your communication strategy. Third, we discuss how to get started with content marketing.
What Is Content Marketing?
The Content Marketing Institute offers the following definition of content marketing:
A strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – and ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
So first and foremost, content marketing is a strategic marketing approach – not just haphazardly posting items to your social media feeds. You need a clear sense of what you need to accomplish and how your content is supposed to move you closer to your objectives and digital marketing strategy.
Second, your content must benefit a clearly defined audience. Go beyond demographics here. What are the wants, needs, interests, questions, concerns, and pain points of your prospects? How does your product or service fit into their lives? What expertise do you have that is of use to them? What kind of content could you distribute that would inform, entertain, and engage them in a meaningful way?
Third, your content must be valuable, relevant, and consistent – but to whom? To your audience.
- Valuable – The people who read your blogs or watch your videos must get something worthwhile out of it. They should come away feeling like they’ve learned something or that they’ve been entertained in a way that resonates with their lives and values.
- Relevant – Your content must address consumers’ wants, needs, and interests. Be that trusted expert they can turn to for answers. Show your audience that you get them – that you understand what’s interesting, funny, heartwarming, or important to them.
- Consistent – Effective content, delivered over a period of time, makes you instantly recognizable. Your look, feel, tone, and writing style – and of course the substance – should speak with the same voice that helps consumers get to know you and grow familiar with your organization.
Finally, a good content marketing strategy drives profitable customer action. Folks want to do business with organizations who understand “people like me.” They trust the recommendations of other consumers like themselves, so when a friend shares branded content through social media, the message takes on added credibility. Content marketing gives you the opportunity to earn that credibility by creating messages that demonstrate how your product or service can make a positive difference in the lives of your prospects.