What is content marketing?
Content marketing is any marketing that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire and retain customers.
While content marketing certainly helps grow sales when done right, at Espire Media we believe content marketing is far more important than just a marketing technique.
In fact we like to say that content marketing is actually part of your customer service, before, during and after any sale.
That’s right, it’s actually all just part of the service that the best brands and organisations offer to their fans and customers. By doing this they not only differentiate themselves from competitors, they also attract and create new customers, and turn those customers into raving fans and loyal brand ambassadors in the process.
How does content marketing work?
First, you focus on creating valuable pieces of content that make your customers lives better in some way. Your content could be in the form of blogs or articles, tutorials, videos, podcasts, magazines, events, games…
While for most organisations, blogs and articles are the easiest and most affordable way to get started, there are no limits to the types of mediums content marketing applies to.
What kind of content should you create? At Espire Media we tell our clients that their guiding content creation principle should be to “Inspire, Educate, Inform or Entertain”. If the piece of content you’re creating doesn’t do one of those four things, don’t create it!
Next, you publish that content so that your customers can find it, enjoy it and share it.
And that’s it in a nutshell!
What are the benefits of content marketing?
Well here’s why content marketing has been voted the most commercially valuable marketing skill by marketing professionals for the last four years running.
To make a sale you need two things.
1 – AWARENESS
Customers can’t buy from you if they don’t know you exist. And in today’s crowded market places, getting the attention of potential customers can be difficult. Customers are savvy, busy and increasingly wary. They love to buy, but they hate to be sold to. They consume the media they want to consume, when they want to consume it and are turning off to ads. Buying your customers attention through advertising alone can be very expensive and “in the old days” (before the internet allowed us all to become publishers quickly and inexpensively) this put small and emerging businesses at a severe disadvantage to competitors with large advertising budgets.
This is where content marketing comes in. By focusing on delighting your customers with valuable content that makes their lives better in some way, it gives every organisation, big or small the chance to earn their attention. Good content marketing doesn’t need to be expensive which means you can level the playing field and “punch above your weight” by being smarter about how you attract and engage your audience.
Basically it comes down to this… To make a sale, you need your customers attention. And if you want their attention, you need to be worthy of it!
2 – TRUST
The second element is trust. We don’t buy from people, brands or businesses that we don’t trust.
So how do you earn the trust of potential customers if they have not yet purchased a product or service from you? By providing customers with content that demonstrates your commitment to your customers as an ally, and that reinforces your position as an expert, and a leader and trusted source in your industry.
Focus on serving your customers with great content before, during and after any sale and the trust you’ve earned will put you at the top of their list of potential suppliers when they are ready to buy. Do it really well and you will often be the only supplier on their list.
Best of all, when you get it right, this cycle of awareness and trust becomes a self perpetuating marketing system, as your customers consume, enjoy and then share your content with even more potential customers just like them!
To summarise, here are the key benefits of content marketing:
- Grow awareness – earn the awareness and attention of your target customers. Valuable, interesting and insightful pieces of relevant content put out into the market get attention. They get people talking and they get shared via social media. This sharing enables your content to be seen by potential customers you have no direct connection to – for free!
- More direct traffic to your website – when an article, blog or video on your website gets shared, it brings more people back to your website to read it or watch it.
- Improve your website search engine rankings – search engines reward sites that are regularly updated with relevant and unique content. If you’re updating your website with great content and your competitors aren’t, you have a great advantage.
- Trust – build credibility and authority with potential customers. We don’t buy from people or businesses we don’t trust. When potential customers can see that you are an expert and authority in your field you go a long way to reassuring them that you can be trusted to do a great job with their hard earned money. This is why salespeople want to work for trusted brands – the goodwill and trust already associated with your name/company/brand makes it much easier to convert prospects into customers.
- First to mind awareness – become known as the “go-to” company in your industry and people won’t even need to hit Google – you’ll be the first one they think of.
- Better quality and less price sensitive customers – when the majority of your customers are long time readers or followers of your content, they better understand the value you bring to the table. People who value your content are better informed prospects and therefore higher quality prospects.
- Customer service – providing great content for your customers adds to your customer and user experience before, during and after any sale.
- Customer loyalty – continuing to add value to your customers with great content helps retain your existing customers and turn them into loyal fans. Competitors need to work three times as hard to win customers who are feeling loved and appreciated by you!
- Referrals – great content makes it easy for your customers to become brand ambassadors. At the click of a social media button, your content (and your company) can be shared with hundreds and thousands of potential new customers easily and effortlessly.
- GROW SALES! – all these factors combine to generate more awareness, more traffic, more leads, more trust, more loyalty, more referrals and more sales!
What content marketing isn't
- Content marketing is not advertising or advertorials.
- Content marketing is not PR (public relations).
- Content marketing is not SEO or SEM (search engine optimisation or search engine marketing).
What are some examples of content marketing?
While content marketing need not be expensive, and can be done by any business, brand or organisation no matter the size, here are a few other examples from higher profile brands you may already be familiar with (including a couple from here in New Zealand).
If you’re thinking about content marketing for your business, brand or organisation, or you know someone who is, here are a few options.
- Email our partner manager Jennifer at email@example.com to arrange a friendly no-obligation chat about your content marketing goals.
- Read our article in NZ Business magazine on the benefits of content marketing in “The Case For Content Marketing“.
- Subscribe to our monthly content marketing brief and get a free copy of our content marketing guide “The Content Creation Cookbook” in PDF.
- Share our website if you think others might find it helpful!