I’ll be honest - I came to content marketing quite late in the game.
Although, to be fair, that could be said for most people of my generation, when you bear in mind the fact that its origins can be traced back as far as the early days of the famous John Deere agricultural firm.
At first, I was unsure; it just looked a bit like blogging mixed with social media management and email marketing.
Then, it clicked! And I haven’t looked back since.
Here’s what I discovered during that ‘lightbulb moment’:
1. It puts your brand right where prospects are
Get your content marketing strategy right, and you’ll put your brand in front of prospects; real, living, breathing human beings who sit directly within your target market.
Few other methods of brand promotion can achieve this (and yes, I know you can do it with social media pay-per-click advertising, but that gets awfully expensive and isn’t something most firms invest in for the long term).
By producing content that speaks directly to the people or businesses for whom you create products and services, they’ll find it. And when they find it, they’ll be glad they did; that’s where the journey starts!
2. It finally makes sense of social media marketing
Social media marketing often feels like you’re simply pumping messages out into the ether with the vague hope that the odd hashtag or two will elicit some engagement.
In reality, that simply doesn’t work, but combine social media channels such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook with a solid content marketing strategy, and the world is your oyster.
When I began feeding social with the content I was creating on-site, it suddenly came alive, and the traffic driven to the website from the aforementioned services both increased and became more relevant.
3. It’s remarkably cost-effective
For years, I was taught that the best way to reach potential customers was to invest in expensive advertising campaigns and even more expensive trade show appearances.
Content marketing is entirely different. Sure, it requires some investment, but you really can do it on a shoestring, too.
The main thing you’ll need to invest is your time (admittedly, a lot of it), but it’s some of the best time you’ll ever spend marketing your business, and the returns are immense - providing you’re prepared to play the long game.
4. It isn’t just about blogging
An awful lot of the work I perform is based around blogging, but I’m starting to branch out into other forms of content including podcasting and video.
Content marketing is at its most engaging when it mixes different forms of content. A blog post can become a video, and vice-versa, while a podcast can be accompanied by a transcription which offers wonderful SEO benefits for your website.
People love consuming all forms of content online, which is why content marketing is inherently fun to work on.
5. It creates an impenetrable layer of trust
This is perhaps the most profound thing I’ve discovered about content marketing.
I worked in sales for many years, and I became all too aware of how difficult it was to build a layer of trust between your business and its prospects. People need an awful lot of convincing before parting with their hard-earned cash, and if you make one mistake or inadvertently say the wrong thing, any trust you’ve previously built can be lost.
With content marketing, the slowly-slowly approach means you can build a layer of trust over time that will remain for many years. It takes time, but if you’re prepared to wait, the pay-off is far lower customer churn.
If you’re on the cusp of delving into a content marketing campaign but have lingering doubts, I’ll hopefully have banished them from your mind.
Jump in. It’ll be the best marketing decision you make.
Mark Ellis is a freelance writer who specialises in copywriting, blogging and content marketing for businesses of all sizes. Mark’s considerable experience at director level and deep interest in personal and business success means he’s ready to comment on anything from freelance writing to workplace dynamics, technology and personal improvement.