A few days ago I had an interesting conversation with an advertising executive which got me thinking. He asked me what I did for a living to which I answered that I run a content marketing firm. Of course then I had to explain what content marketing is, the term being unfamiliar to most traditional local marketers or so it seems. As I explained the concept to him, I realized I was making a strong case for content marketing within, as well as exclusive from, the traditional advertising model.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is a form of marketing and advertising made popular on the Internet. Traditional advertising (TVCs, prints ads, etc) is typically push-sell and interruption based.
Example: an advert in the middle of your TV drama is an interruption. A direct mail flyer distributed to your home is “pushed” at you to read. Etcetera.
In contrast content marketing is non-invasive and pull-based. For example, when you start a blog around a particular topic, say “fusion cooking” or “android apps” or “productivity tips” or whatever, you blog about your topic to attract views. People who are interested in that subject matter COME TO YOU versus you going to them. They are “pulled-in” by your content. They actively search out your content. They seek to know more about the subject your business is about.
So in essence content marketing (much like opt-in email marketing) is based on attractive content. YOU develop the content and your audience/readers/buyers/customers willingly flock to it without the need for traditional advertising. They flock to your content because it is magnetic. It fills a need. It’s what they are looking for or interested in at that time.
Great Content: Check! Now How About the Marketing Bit?
You might think at this point about the ol’ mousetrap analogy and how just because you’ve got great content, it doesn’t automatically mean that the right people will find it.
Enter SEO. Search Engine Optimization. Your great content actually needs to show up on the first page of search results for most people to find it. And so most content marketers endeavor to apply SEO best practices while developing their content.
Secondly, another way for people to find your great content may be through non-traditional advertising such as social media. So you push out your content on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, discussion forums, and other social networks where you’ve built a grouping of like-minded people who are interested in your content.
What Kind of Content Can you Use for Marketing?
The content in content marketing may take many shapes and forms – you are probably only limited by your imagination. The content could be in the form of a whitepaper, a blog, an e-book, a social media channel, a video, a podcast, a webinar, an article, a user guide, a product review, a product description, website copy, or any one of the many content platforms offered by the web.
So that is what we does. We write magnetic content. Content that advertises your business without spending nearly as much as you would in traditional advertising or via using any of the traditional channels.
In fact the acronym in our name spells out the various services we offer with regard to content
Why Does Content Marketing Work?
Personally of course I recommend content marketing as a great promotional strategy for small to medium sized businesses. And the reason is: it works! You can see people all over the internet engaging with great content – be it in the form of comments on a blog post, a Facebook Like, a twitter retweet, a re-share of a great article, etc. Every time someone shares or recommends your content, it builds you up as an authority on the subject. And people like to buy from other people they trust and like. Think about it: who would convince you try out a new shampoo – your best friend’s Facebook update proclaiming a good hair day thanks to a new shampoo or a model on TV who says it’s the best?
So the reason content marketing works is because when done right, it’s real. It projects a certain authenticity and intimacy with the brand. It helps people relate on a one-to-one basis with your product or service.
If you’re looking for an easier way to market your new or fledgling business, give content marketing a chance. The results are not necessarily as immediate as advertising but for a fraction of the cost, you will have a much more targeted audience who is genuinely interested in what you’ve got to say. Now isn’t that better than being a blaring loudspeaker?
Are you in the advertising field? Or the content industry? If so, would love your perspective in comments below on how/if/whether content marketing competes with advertising!