For a couple of weeks now, I’ve found myself questioning many of the things I do-I find that it’s healthy from time to time to question what I do, and why. As a marketing content producer, I found myself contemplating a couple of questions:
- What is content marketing really all about?
- Is content marketing really all that important?
I realized that if I’m questioning the process, then others might be also thinking of the same questions.
At the very least, I figured that there may be other digital and creative service providers who are questioning their day-to-day marketing processes, as well as the role they play in the process.
So, I decided to go back to the basics and investigate why marketing content is such an important piece of the online marketing puzzle. And, I decided to write a series of articles on the topic.
In this article, we’ll explore basics relating to the what and the why of marketing content, especially as it pertains to text content.
What Is Marketing Content?
The first thing that you might be wondering after reading the sub-head is, “What’s the different between marketing content and content marketing?” The simple answer is that marketing content is a product that serves the function of content marketing. The Content Marketing Institute explains the function as:
…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…
Basically, content marketing is the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling. It is non-interruption marketing. Instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent.
The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty.
In order to attract new business prospects without resorting to the same old tired pitching tactics, we use content of all sorts to gain the prospect’s attention. You’ve seen all of these before, but here’s a short reminder of the type of marketing content you’ll encounter online:
- Text content (articles, blog posts)
- Streaming audio files
- Slide decks (such as what you’d find on Slideshare)
- PDFs (sales letters, brochures, case studies)
In short, if it educates and informs the prospect, then your content is performing an important marketing function.
Now, take a moment to remind yourself why marketing content should be a crucial part of your marketing scheme:
It Starts A Conversation
Think about the awkwardness you’ve experienced when you were first introduced to a new person. You knew that you wanted to get to know them, but you probably felt weird about starting a conversation with them. You probably also second-guessed yourself about the questions you wanted to ask this new person.
Not only does this take place in our personal relationships, but the same holds true in our business relationships. Your prospects have a plethora of thoughts and questions they want to direct your way, but they often don’t know how to start interacting with you. You can guide the relationship and figuratively take your customers by the hand via your marketing content.
When you publish topical content, then you allow your prospects to think things like,
“I get it!”
…and hopefully, “I want to learn more!”
All of these are buying signals that you can latch on to while gently guiding the prospect through your sales funnel, instead of pounding them over the head with a hard ask.
Kevin Lund and Eileen Sutton refer to the introductory phase of a new prospect relationship within an article published in the Chief Content Officer magazine-they call this the handshake moment.
It Helps You Establish Industry Authority
If you sell digital products or services, then you already know that there’s no shortage of others who are doing the same. But, what makes you stand out from the pack? Why should your prospective client or customer believe that you know what you’re doing?
This is an important question to repeatedly ask yourself, especially if you work in an industry that doesn’t require an academic or technical degree. You need to be able to prove your worth through industry knowledge and authority. Marketing content allows you the platform to do this.
Bonus if you can produce marketing content that allows you to position yourself as a disruptive thought leader in your industry.
It Invites Storytelling Opportunities
I love how Geoffrey Berwind, professional storytelling consultant, defines the power of storytelling in a Forbes magazine article:
Stories powerfully connect us to our listeners. When we share our own real-life stories or the stories of others (example or proof stories) our audiences feel that they get to know us as authentic people – people who have lives outside the corporate setting, people who have struggled with problems and who have figured out how to overcome them.
In keeping with building relationships with your prospects, you should think of ways to share stories of all sorts. Bottom line-although you’re functioning in a professional space, you’re marketing to human beings. Sharing relevant stories humanizes their buying experience.
People are far more apt to give their loyalty and their money to those who they perceive to be human!
The good news is, you don’t have to take on all of the storytelling tasks of marketing by yourself. You can make use of eager guest bloggers who understand your brand. They help you by adding new stories with fresh angles and perspectives to your marketing platform.
And, as an added bonus, if the guest blogger already has an online following, then they’ll bring traffic to your marketing platform that you don’t have to toil or troll for!
You’ll Amplify Your Branding Voice
In the old days, if a company wanted to brand themselves, then they had to pay for expensive consultants and agencies. The marketing team would spend untold sums of money on print, radio, and television advertising.
Thank goodness for digital platforms that allow businesses of all sizes to promote their brand for little to no money!
And, thank goodness that there’s all sorts of content that you can use in order to amplify your branding voice. There will always be a place for text content, but many people enjoy video content. There are certain types of products or service brands that are suitable for promotion via slide decks, webinars, and other platforms.
A smart marketer will explore all available options. After all, every form of marketing content isn’t going to reach or appeal to everyone. Why not stack the deck in your favor by producing as many different forms of content that makes sense for your brand?
In the next part of my marketing content series, I’ll delve a little more on why marketing content should be used, along with how you should be using it.
Share with me: What impact has marketing content made on your business? Have you become numb in the process of creating marketing content, taking it for granted? Is this a function that you’ve heard you should do, but you’ve failed to see the need for it? Leave answers in the comments below.
* Photo courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net