What is content marketing?
By Kye Mackey
It's the new buzzword in corporate marketing, but between managing your PR, social media and website, why should a small business owner make time for content marketing? And what's it all about?
Content marketing is sharing useful, engaging content with your customers. Instead of pitching your products or services, you are helping your customers and informing your buyers. You can do this by starting a blog, producing videos, or sending out monthly newsletters (without the sales pitch!). The belief is that if you create interesting information your customers are passionate about, they will ultimately reward you with their business and loyalty.
Why content marketing?
The way we consume traditional media is changing. We switch channels during TV ad breaks, flip past magazine advertisements and quickly dismiss online pop ups. Smart marketers understand that traditional marketing is becoming less effective - consumers are tired of being bombarded with sales messages every minute of every day. Give them something really useful however, and they're sure to give you their full attention.
What are the benefits for small business?
Producing great content may seem like an extra cost (not to mention a strain on resources!), but it's much cheaper than traditional advertising. Do it properly and you can reap the following benefits.
- Builds reputation and authority: You know a lot about your industry - sharing helpful insights with potential customers helps to make you an authority on the subject you know best.
- Lead nurturing and conversion: Content can help move prospects through the buying cycle. For example, if you know someone is interested in your product, share a demo video showing how it works. It's an easy way to get a conversion without pushing a hard sell.
- Customer loyalty and retention: The ultimate goal is not just to win a new customer, but to build a community of loyal followers. Continue to nurture the relationship with relevant content and you'll be front of mind next time they're ready to buy.
- Visibility: People are turning to websites as the primary source of information - each day there are more than one billion search requests on Google alone. Having optimised content on your website is great for SEO and allows you to capitalise on the largest advertising platform in the world.
Three ways to get started
1. Start a blog
If you're not already blogging, you're missing out on a golden opportunity to rank above your competitors on search engines and reach out to customers new and old. Consider writing 'how to' articles that give readers inspiring ways to use your products, or blog about topical issues in your industry. Case studies are another great way to promote your services.
2. Produce videos
There's an upward trend in both the effectiveness and popularity of video content - Searchmetrics found that of all content included in Google's general search listings, video appeared most frequently. These days, videos are simple and affordable to produce and easily shareable, which makes them a great way to establish brand personality and put a face to your business. Remember, the key is to be helpful, rather than sell a product - Bunnings' DIY videos are a great example of how this can work.
3. Create a white paper
A white paper is a detailed document that explains a complex topic in a way the audience can relate to. What useful insights could your business share with customers? Whether you write it yourself or get a professional to do it for you, sending out a white paper is a great way to establish thought leadership in your industry.
When was the last time you shared something with your customers? Was it something they were delighted to receive, or a sales push? Take the time to produce something they're truly interested in and you're one step closer to winning a customer for life.