Content Marketing – A Simple Definition and Approach
Last month, we discussed how to develop a content marketing strategy. What we learned from the feedback is that some of you wanted to better understand what was included when we say, “content marketing.” So, this month, we’re taking a step back and helping define the major categories in content marketing so you can make smart decisions on what to add to your marketing plan and what you can realistically commit to each month.
First a definition. Content marketing is about sharing the information which is different from traditional marketing that focuses on product-specific information. With the goal of informing opinions, creating expertise, and uncovering best practices, content marketing includes things like educational articles shared on online magazines and professional sites, educational videos and webinars, downloadable content like whitepapers and guides and even email marketing that shares information. By leveraging informative content, brands can turn themselves into something more interesting and engaging.
By becoming more interesting and informative on topics of interest that matter to your audience, your company and key employees become authoritative resources. Providing valuable content means your company is more likely to get discovered and considered, giving you greater permission to connect and engage them in meaningful conversations that lead to sales and increased profits.
The best content doesn’t interrupt whatever the visitor is doing, but rather invites them to learn, enjoy, and connect. Good content marketing brings prospects to you, rather than forcing yourselves in front of the user. This builds trust and loyalty with potential customers.
The trick to knowing what content to produce, and when and how to engage with prospects, is understanding the information needs your prospects have as they move from discovery to consideration to buying mode. Paying attention to what they are consuming, and qualifying them throughout the process, are the keys to success.
So, let’s get down to the major categories of content marketing:
Blogs give you the maximum amount of control on what your company shares, the focus of your educational efforts, and the personality you want to present. By developing content focused on educating and addressing current challenges and trends in your industry, you create searchable content that allows you to get found, and to capture leads as new prospects interact with your content.
A much bigger category, this includes white papers, eBooks, worksheets, infographics, short thought-leadership articles, slide decks, case studies and more. Developing content in this category requires more research, writing, and planning compared to blog posts, but this type of content pays dividends because you often ask for contact information in exchange for the download. This longer form content also allows you to demonstrate your knowledge of industry topics, introduce research, how to overcome common challenges, and how you think about newly forming trends. Have any questions about what you have read thus far? Contact us.
Audio and Video Content
Audio and video content are very appealing to all categories of prospects. Given the choice of watching a video or listening to a short audio piece, most will opt first for these types of content. Audio and video content can take the form of webinars, video blogs, video training, podcasts or live social media video such as Facebook Live. Video content, in particular, is valuable since it can be cut into smaller videos that can then be shared on LinkedIn, Instagram, or Facebook depending on your audience. Developing audio and video content takes more planning and logistics, but pays off in increased engagement and awareness of your content on search engines and within social media channels.
News Articles and Guest Blogs
Over time, certain aspects of public relations and content marketing have merged. Within this category, content includes sponsored stories, news articles, guest blogs and featured quotes within influencer blogs. While you have less control over the content in this particular approach, third-party endorsement of your ideas and thought leadership goes a long way. Combining your authority with the network built up by an industry expert allows you to tap into a wider network who gets to know your brand and you as an expert.
There are a number of forums, groups and audience opportunities where your company can answer questions and provide expert advice. Professional organizations and associations exist to pose questions and gather expert opinions for the benefit of their members. LinkedIn groups also exist to gather advice and information. Searching out groups and forums where your prospects gather, then regularly sharing advice, articles and insights is another way your thought leadership and awareness of your brand can be achieved. This approach includes answering questions, speaking engagements, information sharing.
Content marketing has moved from nice to have an approach to becoming a significant tool for brands. Prospects are doing more reading and inquiring online before ever considering reaching out or calling a company. Content marketing offers companies the opportunity to connect in significant ways by influencing the impression of your products and services through your expertise and willingness to share important information. As we mentioned in our previous post, it all starts with a plan of what you will share and what platforms you plan to use. As a way of helping you decide where to get started, be sure to download or content marketing roadmap to help guide the way.