Traditional media marketing is going through a crisis right now. Millions of people skip commercials thanks to DVRs and online streaming services. Print media readership is dwindling, and so are ad buys. Even online advertising methods are beginning to see diminishing returns. Most people, by now, are prone to simply ignore banner ads. Quite frankly, many of these attempts at marketing are seen as annoying at best, and can even engender hostility in some. The perceptive marketer in today’s media landscape understands that putting all your eggs in the traditional media strategy basket is foolish, and now is time to implement a content marketing strategy.
Content marketing is a way to engage the customer with content that is informative, entertaining, relevant to the brand, and consistently published so as to keep a continuing relationship. Unlike a pure search engine optimization tactic, content marketing is communication meant strictly for human consumption. It must be appealing and in some way, relevant to what it is you are about. It also can’t just be about selling something. Content marketing is your chance to become an authority on a subject that people will go to for information, and then naturally choose to purchase from you. Businesses with tight marketing budgets and a desperate need to see ROI immediately are some of the most resistant to placing any significant resources into content marketing, but that is to their detriment.
Other forms of marketing tend to give some quick results but on platforms you do not own. The moment you stop paying for access to those platforms (TV, radio, print media, etc.) you begin falling into a black hole as far as the consumer is concerned. Your ownership of the content you create or curate is a lot more permanent. People who love your content will take it upon themselves to share it, and a pleasant side effect is that you will eventually see SEO gains without even trying. Google is valuing the real opinions people have for websites, so a more socially driven strategy is far more future proof and algorithm change resistant than many other SEO tactics. When you spend time being beneficial to people without interrupting and annoying them, you win in the end when they start rewarding you with sales.
The common forms of electronic content marketing are blogs, social media, videos, message boards, newsletters, mobile applications, and podcasts. Of course many companies use these platforms to present a message. The problem stems from the fact that so many of them use it explicitly to sell that it contributes to the amount of ignored spam on the web today. Please don’t add to the problem!
Since content marketing is not a one way communication, honesty is an absolute must. Traditional marketing was propaganda; it let the producer of the message tell any story they wanted without any accountability or feedback. Today, your brand’s reputation is always at stake. If you say one thing and do another thing within a customer interaction, you will be exposed. Your content marketing strategy must keep the reinforcement of the brand’s culture as a priority. Everything you do online must remain consistent with this brand identity you wish to have.
As described earlier, you have many avenues for distributing digital content to the community you are targeting. However, there are certain guidelines to adhere to that are an absolute must along all those channels.
Do the Right Thing
It’s not just the title of a movie; it is a way of life for any business in the 21st century that wants to have good will turn into sales. Find your values and stick to them. Chances are, other people share those values and will more readily identify with you. Live consistently by those values and your customers will become your fans and will evangelize for you.
What have you done for Me Lately?
You start this relationship with customers by providing content of value. You always have to ask yourself at the beginning of every content creation project how it will benefit the people you are talking to. Does this instructional video really help solve a common problem this community is dealing with? Is my blog post capable of inspiring someone to do the things they have always wanted to do but were too timid or shy to try? Are we re-tweeting things that will put a smile on someone’s face today? Selling is not the goal here. Engagement through providing real value is.
The Truth will Set you Free
Even if you get away with a lie today, the exposal tomorrow will be even bigger. Confront troublesome problems head on instead of passing the buck onto someone else. The internet has made everyone a little more jaded and better capable of finding the truth. Even more importantly, everyone with a social media account or a website is now a broadcaster of information just as credible, if not more credible than established media among certain audiences.
To start, everyone who consumes your content is a lead. The quality of the content and its relevance not only to the consumer but to your brand is your opportunity to later get a sale. Once you have made the sale, the confirmation in the mind of the customer that your brand, as marketed (through traditional means and online content) really is who you say you are contributes to satisfying the customer. Further content marketing contributes to customer retention. These kinds of impressed customers love to spread the word about just how great the product is and how trustworthy the company that produced it really is. Not only are you looking at the likelihood that these happy customers are spreading the word about you, now that you have their trust through content marketing, you have a much better up-sell opportunity.
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