Content Marketing: A Crash Course
The Cottee’s cordial, Aeroplane Jelly and Vegemite jingles will live forever in my head.
My shower walls have heard the Decore song more times than I care to admit. And if I’m ever in a jam with my car, I know the number to call to get Lube mobile to come to me (hopefully sans that gap-toothed kid).
I have been marketed to since before I could walk, as I'm sure you have too. And, we’re all a little bit tired. We’re tired of being bombarded with ads from every direction and sick of getting cold called. We tune out ads and actively avoid pushy salespeople.
Today’s consumers are savvy, sceptical and thirsty for information. They don’t want to be sold to, they want to do their research, understand their options, and come to a decision of their own accord.
Enter content marketing. You might have also heard of ‘inbound marketing’ or ‘pull marketing’ which are similar methodologies. It’s a marketing strategy that’s about freely giving away high quality, valuable and useful content (think blog posts, ebooks, infographics, videos), with the purpose of providing people with insightful information during their decision making process.
It might help them to solve a problem, understand a concept or weigh up their buying options and it positions you as an expert in your industry. From your audience’s perspective, you’ve built trust by giving them the information they need in a non-spammy way. From your perspective, it's the first step in building a long-term customer relationship.
Don’t make this content marketing mistake
If you were meeting a new person at a party, you might mention what you do, and even offer some friendly advice, but you would never start hitting them up for a sale when you first meet. You might meet 2-3 times before you even suggest working together. The same etiquette applies to building customer relationships.
Some brands ignore this advice lace their content with sales pitches. Whenever a customer sees this, it taints the rest of the content, because it all feels like one big attempt to sell something, rather than offering helpful, objective advice. The intent with content marketing is to build trust, so avoid trying to sell in your content, rather, keep it informative and unbiased.
How to get results with content marketing
You won’t get results with content marketing if what you’re offering is sub-par. You want your customers to think ‘I can’t believe they are just giving me this for free’. It’s not about being the best writer, graphic designer or video producer, but ensuring your content is rich with information and value.
The type of content you choose to create will depend on:
- Your ideal customers: When, where and how do your customers prefer to consume content?
- Your skills: What forms of content you are best at creating or what do you have the resources to create?
- Your industry, niche, product or service: Think about your primary (best-selling, most popular) product or service. What questions do your customers have about it? What information would they be looking for?
I like to have 2 flavours of content. Both are important—
- The first is free, un-gated content. This is free to consume, and easily accessible.
- The second is gated content (also called a freemium or lead magnet). This requires a person to enter a name and email to gain access (more on this below). It usually requires a bit more effort on their part and offers even more jam-packed value than un-gated content.
The first part of the challenge is creating the content. But the second, and equally important part, is getting it in-front of people. You can’t just publish content to your website or one social media platform and hope that people will magically see it.
I suggest having one central place that you are driving traffic to. Usually, this is your website, so you would post content there first. Then, share and repurpose that same content through other marketing channels, like facebook, pinterest, snapchat, instagram. Just ensure you’ve followed best practices for the platform (e.g. SEO, image sizes, keywords) and have re-formatted your content considering how people consume content on that platform. For example, you might convert a blog post on your website into a quote for instagram and an infographic for Pinterest.
If you have a little bit of budget, you can also opt to invest in facebook, pinterest or linkedin ads to help your content reach more people, sooner. Just remember, your ads shouldn’t be selling anything on the first interaction, they should be focused on offering value.
Build a relationship
Often, people’s interactions with your content is fleeting, but, when you use gated content (as I mentioned above) you have the opportunity to continue to build a relationship via email. This means sending more valuable content over time and, eventually, when the time is right, asking for the sale.
Whenever I mention content marketing, people always want to know how long it takes to get results. Honestly, this depends on your customers, industry, brand and content, among other factors. From our experience, it's taken customers 6-8 months to reach out to us after first interacting with our content, at other times, it's been 24 hours. Some people are ready to buy, others are contemplating their options and some will never buy but might be great brand advocates. Great content will help you to stay top of mind and continue to build a relationship with your followers.
Content marketing comes in many flavours, but its essence is always the same—focus on offering incredible value for your customers by helping them to solve their biggest problems or achieve their goals. This is the foundation for building a tribe of loyal customers.
Do you use content marketing for your business? I'd love to know how it's working for you. Tell me in the comments below. And, if you liked this article, why not share it?