Content marketing can seem strange and daunting to the uninitiated, so what exactly is it? Is it worthwhile? How does it work? FIVE CRM explains all.
“Content” is arguably the biggest buzzword to come out of the marketing world in the past few years, But what exactly is it? And is it right for your business?
Spoiler alert: Yes, there is probably some way marketing with content can help you, but it does require some work and planning.
So let’s get back to basics for a moment.
What is Content Marketing?
We are all familiar with the concept of marketing; the practice of attracting new prospects, engaging with them in some way and persuading them to buy. Content marketing is a method of marketing whereby valuable online content in produced and shared to raise awareness of the company in question, prove the value that working with them can provide, and to openly engage with new potential customers. Content can take many forms, with blog posts, video, podcasts and infographics being amongst the most common.
This very blog post is an example of content marketing – some of you reading this may have got here through a Google Search or a post on social media, having never heard of FIVE CRM before, and yet here you are! Additionally, if you find this blog post useful (and we sincerely hope that you do), you may even share it on social media, helping out your friends whilst also increasing our exposure.
The social aspect to content marketing is a key element; sharing and discussing your content on social media and in comments sections (like the one below this article) provide a valuable mouthpiece to readers/viewers that are interested in sharing their input, as well as offering further opportunity for you as the the business to prove your worth and foster trust by responding. This opening of communication channels between you and your prospects is incredibly valuable, and is the cornerstone of great content marketing.
So Why is it so Popular?
The popularity of content marketing can be attributed to many factors, including:
- Creating regular content is generally cheaper than most other types of marketing, though it makes sense to maintain other, more traditional types of marketing while you gauge the effectiveness of your content marketing efforts.
- Giving away valuable info for free not only increases the chance that people will find you, but may trigger feelings of wanting to return your favour; which they are most likely to do by becoming a paying customer.
- It gives you more to talk about on social media and to attract new followers. You can only share the link to your homepage so many times before people get bored, so why not give them something to read, digest and discuss? Additionally, when you consistently create new content that’s hosted on your own site (such as blog posts) search engines look on this more favourably because you are frequently keeping your site up to date. It may only make a tiny difference in a sea of millions of websites, but it does mean that your placing in search results may see some minor improvement.
- Content marketing is not based around the hard sell. Nowadays, people have become increasingly numb to blatant, pushy marketing, and are very cynical towards being strongly marketed to. But if your marketing provides an incentive for the reader to stick around, such as free advice, it nurtures feelings of trust and encourages a more lasting sense of worth in your brand. Though one-hit purchases are nice, encouraging long-term respect for your brand is exponentially more valuable.
The content marketing bandwagon may seem tempting, but it won’t work without the appropriate preparation, time and resources. So what should you expect to put in to your content marketing?
You need to first decide what kind of content you’d like to produce, and how appropriate each format is for what you do. This decision hinges on whether your industry looks more favourably on textual or visual content, or a mixture of both. A fashion retailer would probably find more value in visuals compared to an accountant for example, who may benefit more from more textual content such as a blog.
Once you have decided on the types of content that are most appropriate for you, thoughts turn to how exactly you are going to get the content made. Content creation takes time, and of course, time is money. If you intend to produce your content in-house, be aware that whomever you choose for the task will need to have at least minimal demonstrable skill in the production of that content. You will also need to be aware that any time they spend on creating content is time that they will be away from their other duties.
If this isn’t practical for you or your team, the other option is of course to outsource your content production. This may work out more expensively, but you have the peace of mind that comes with working with an expert whose reputation depends on projects like this.
The next question is that of frequency. Depending on who is creating your content and what that content is, you need to drill down how regularly a new piece of content can be created. If you try to force a piece of content out every week and it’s simply too much work for you or your team, the quality of content will take a significant hit. If it’s something you’ve not done before, don’t expect to hit the ground running. If the average frequency of content creation by your peers is far quicker than yours, don’t fret! Any content marketing efforts need to work with you rather than against you. Anything you can’t manage at the moment can always be worked on further down the line.
Here comes the crunch: if your business doesn’t have a social media presence, it’s important to work on that first, and your content marketing second. Your business needs a Facebook “Like” page and a Twitter account at a bare minimum for your to promote your content, and if they currently have no followers, it’s like shouting at an empty auditorium; nobody’s going to hear it! If you feel you need help with getting started on social, you may need to outsource a social media consultant, so that could be another financial consideration.
Hopefully this article has gone some way to helping you decide if content marketing is right for your business. There may well be a period of adjustment whilst you get used to this new addition to your marketing efforts, but the value that a consistent content marketing strategy can provide is well worth the time and expense. Take an honest look at what content you can create, how often you can create it and how you are going to make it shareable. The best content is the content created on your own terms.