We talk a lot about “content marketing” here on The PBG Blog, so we want to be sure you, our lovely audience, understands what we’re talking about and why it’s so important. Get this: in providing you with information on content marketing, we’re doing our own content marketing! *insert Inception joke here*
All joking aside, let’s first remove the mystery…
Content marketing is creating and distributing web content to attract your ideal customers. Sure, the word “content” is pretty vague, but that’s the beauty in content marketing. Content can be anything from blog posts to YouTube videos, from social media updates to podcasts, from webinars to e-books—content is anything you can share with your customers and online fans. Even better, excellent content marketing helps you attract new customers, and that’s the ultimate goal.
When you leverage unique web content as a way to sell your products and services, you open a world of opportunity for your business. Today’s business-consumer interactions are built on telling stories and developing relationships. Consumer loyalty must be earned well before the point of sale, so engaging your audience with awesome web content is a great way to start building that relationship.
Take It From Bill Gates
Most people like to talk about Steve Jobs, so I’m going to talk about Bill Gates, just to throw the Internet for a loop. Am I funny yet? No? Anyway, Bill Gates wrote an article called Content is King, which was published back in early 1996.
Here are some some key excerpts from Content is King…
Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting.
But the broad opportunities for most companies involve supplying information or entertainment. No company is too small to participate.
If people are to be expected to put up with turning on a computer to read a screen, they must be rewarded with deep and extremely up-to-date information that they can explore at will. They need to have audio, and possibly video. They need an opportunity for personal involvement that goes far beyond that offered through the letters-to-the-editor pages of print magazines.
[Click here to read Content is King by Bill Gates. I recommend popping over and reading it quick. We’ll still be here when you get back.]
What Bill Gates was mainly talking about in Content is King is the late-to-emerge trend in paid online content. (Think iTunes, with its 400 million active accounts, all with credit card numbers on file.) However, his ideas also apply to free content in the form of content marketing. With the dawn of portable media devices, from smartphones to the Kindle, it’s obvious that paid content and marketing content are now coexistent, and blending together now more than ever. Big brands are seeing the value in developing relationships through storytelling and using informational content to drive traffic to their websites, which may or may not include paid content.
Point is, Bill Gates was right back in 1996. It sure took us long enough to figure that out.
Content Marketing: Where to Start
Business owners see this emerging trend in content marketing and want to jump on the bandwagon right away. We need a viral video! Ok, that’s cool. You can do that. But you must be aware that your video is only one component of a larger storytelling campaign, which also includes additional online content, all built around an extremely solid brand. Content marketing strategies like these require external resources, and a lot of hands-on, big picture thinking. So if you’re a more modestly sized business and/or you’re not secure in your branding yet, it’s likely better to start a bit smaller.
Think about the value your business provides for your target market, and use that to define the story you want to tell and/or the information you want to share to create and solidify customer loyalty. You’re looking to draw in that ideal customer and get them engaged in your content. By sharing that content with like-minded individuals, your loyal customers are helping you build your business, your brand, and your customer base—all in one. Magic!
Written content is a very accessible, very affordable, and (among the other options) much easier place to begin your content marketing. Before you’re ready to launch that next marketing campaign, you must be sure your website content (including your social media updates) truly speaks to your target market. Great website content, a well-written and regularly updated blog, and perhaps an e-newsletter or e-book will work wonders for establishing a fantastic website and solidifying your brand message so you and your company can move on to those big, exciting marketing strategies.
In short, content marketing is a great way to build your web presence, grow your customer loyalty, and attract new customers. Solidifying your written message is the best place to start.