If you’re a business owner, you might already suspect that reaching out to your target demographic and forming relationships with them would be a positive step for your company. You might even have heard that “content marketing” is the way to achieve that goal… But beyond that, you might be lost. Content marketing sounds like a vague term, and perhaps you’re not quite sure what it is or what it requires you to do.
That’s okay! This is a common question, and we’re happy to provide an answer for you.
Content Marketing Defined
“Content marketing is 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” (via the Content Marketing Institute).
Okay, so what exactly does that mean? Let’s break it down.
First, let’s talk about the content itself. “Content” can refer to anything you create, that you intend to be used by your target audience. This might mean blogs, videos, pictures, graphs, social media posts, websites, and so on. Public presentations, podcasts, and printed materials can be content marketing, too, if they are created with the above values and goals in mind. You encounter examples of content marketing every day, without even realizing it.
Now, let’s talk about those adjectives. What does “valuable, relevant, and consistent” mean, and why are they important?
“Valuable” refers to how your audience will interpret the content you provide. You want to create blogs, videos, and social media posts that they seek out and want to read or watch. When content is valuable, it answers your audience’s questions, provides entertainment, or shares useful information that they want to know. For example, you’re reading this article right now, because you want to learn about content marketing.
“Relevant” goes hand-in-hand with “valuable”. If your content is relevant, that means you have researched your target demographic to discover what they are likely to value. You know the age, geographic location, income level, and interests of your customer base (and perhaps a few other characteristics). This information helps you to create content that is meaningful to them, so that you can capture their attention and form relationships with them.
“Consistent” means that your content presents a stable image of your brand. Your audience feels more at ease, and will better connect with you, when you release content that consistently meets their expectations. Consistent can also mean that you publish this content on a regular basis, maintaining contact over time.
Now that you understand the definition of content marketing, let’s move on to the “why”.
Why does content marketing help your business thrive?
Let’s review the four steps of the buying cycle:
- First the customer builds awareness of a need.
- Next, the customer will research to learn their options.
- In the consideration stage, the customer compares these options, to determine which product or service best suits their needs and budget.
- Finally, the customer will buy the product or service which they have selected.
Content Marketing vs Advertising
Advertising works well during the final two stages of the buying cycle. The customer has already determined a need and researched their options, and at this point advertising might sway their decision.
By contrast, content marketing facilitates the first step of the buying cycle. By consistently reaching out to your target demographic, you can educate them on products or services just as they begin to realize they need them. As their first point of contact for the issue, and as someone with whom they’ve already formed a relationship, you’re first in line for their consideration, and you have a considerable advantage over the competition.
Content marketing is a specialized field, so naturally we can’t teach you everything within the scope of a single article. But hopefully you feel more familiar with the topic now. Perhaps we’ve even sparked some ideas on how you could evolve your marketing practices, to form deeper and more meaningful connections with your customers. If you have any questions or need to further clarify any of the above points, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’ll be happy to assist as you strive to grow your business.