What is content marketing and why is it powerful?

Content marketing costs 60% less per lead than outbound methods.

We live in a fast-moving world and, quite frankly, the pace is scary.

When I started my first job as a bank teller 20-plus years ago, the bank had no mobile phones,  no PCs, no fax machines, and most of the work I do today as a content writer didn’t even exist.

Not so long ago, if someone was in the market for a product or service, they would approach the provider directly for the information they needed before making a purchase. These days, though, it is estimated that 88% of consumers jump online and research products and services first.

Times they are a changin’.

Most people are sick and tired of traditional sales and marketing methods. In fact, research shows that most consumers distrust advertisements and most place more value on peer recommendations.

What this means for businesses

The old interruptive methods of cold calling, direct mail and print advertisements, etc., aren’t as effective as they used to be.

Here are some facts:

  • 86% of people skip TV advertisements (they have a remote, Mysky, pay-per-view).
  • 44% of people don’t open direct mail (I know I don’t)
  • 91% of those that subscribe to a newsletter eventually unsubscribe.

For more statistics, click here.

Recently, a client of mine complained how he is finding it harder to book sales appointments. His method is to cold call prospects, and the majority brush him of by telling him to email a proposal.

Why is this? Well, apart from the fact that people are busy, information has never been more readily available. In fact, more content has been published in the last three years than the previous 40,000! People can now learn about products and services in their own time, and all they have to do is reach for their mobile phones.

Like this post? Please shareClick To Tweet

The power of content marketing

You may have heard about content marketing. And you may also be wondering just what it is. Simply put, content marketing is the creation and publication of content tailored for a specific audience. And it can come in many forms: industry magazines, blogs, case studies, newsletters, white papers, slide shares, videos….

The concept of content marketing is new for many businesses. However, it may come as a surprise to learn that it has been around for a long time. Here are some early examples:

  • In 1895, tractor manufacturer John Deere launched a consumer magazine called Furrow. It is still going today with a circulation of 1.5 million in 40 countries.
  • In 1900, Michelin launched The Michelin Guide, a 400-page guide for motorists about maintaining their vehicles and finding accommodation.
  • In the 1930s, P & G created soap operas, which were entertaining radio shows sponsored by detergent companies.

For more examples, visit A history of content marketing.

Why content marketing works

Content marketing works because it adds value. Take the John Deere Furrow magazine as an example; it provides valuable information for farmers during the buying process. When a farmer eventually approaches a John Deere dealer, they are much more informed and more likely to buy. This is why it is estimated that content marketing costs 60% less per lead than outbound methods — there is no cold calling to uninterested prospects and no scatter-gun advertising campaigns.

Content marketing is subtle. It’s not about telling prospects how great you are; instead it’s about demonstrating why.

How to apply content marketing to your business

If you do it right, you can save yourself a lot of expense by committing to a ongoing content strategy. Here are some ideas:

  • restaurants can publish a weekly blog on new and interesting meals
  • construction companies can write case studies on successful projects
  • musicians can post YouTube videos of their performances
  • business coaches can post their recent presentations on Slide Share.
Many businesses will use a combination to keep their audiences informed. As a content writer, I produce regular blog posts. However, I could also create YouTube presentations, case studies and Slide Shares to educate my audience. Watch this space.

How to promote your content

The ideal home for your content is your website. This is because websites with fresh content have much more authority in the eyes of Google than static sites.

Your content should also be optimised for Google with keywords in the content as well as the title tags and meta descriptions.

Social media is essential. It enables you to engage and build relationships with your customers and others in your industry (My blog, A guide to five social media sites discusses the pros and cons of five well-known social media sites).  If you provide content that is valuable to your audience, they will share it among their networks and the reach can be huge.

What do you think? How does content marketing work for you? I welcome your comments.

  1. I agree with you Andrew, most of us prefer to make our buying decision in our own time. I haven’t watch a commercial in so long I wouldn’t have a clue what’s on today. I also don’t watch the news and prefer not knowing what evil things are happening around the world.

    I’m not subscribed to a lot of newsletters because no one has time for that.

    As you know though, I do blog twice a week and get my content out in front of as many people as possible to see.

    We all just need to continue doing the best we can to get our content our in front of as many people as we can and I personally prefer doing that through building relationships because word of mouth will take you so much further.


    1. Thanks Adrienne. Yes, sometimes I think it’s better NOT to know about some of the things that are happening in the world. I guess content marketing and social media is all about the consumer taking control of what they are exposed to.

  2. Hey Andrew,

    I guess I can fall under the category of people who do not open direct mail. I like to get it through email myself 🙂

    This is a great post you have on content marketing. My dad is learning step by step on how to use his laptop. If he ask me a question that I don’t know, I tell him to go look it up on Google. He get’s pissed off, but eventually he’ll look. But it’s amazing how times have changed from just 15 years ago. Robert Kiyosaki was right about us being in the information age. Google has proven that. In fact, it’s a verb 🙂 You couldn’t tell someone to go google it 15 years ago. They would look at you side ways as if you need to see a psychologists LOL…

    Anyways Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi Sherman, thanks for your feedback. To be honest, I don’t even like direct mail by email, but I do use it myself sometimes to keep in touch with my contact who aren’t on social media.

      We are in the information age and information has never been so easy to get hold of (your blog is testament to that). This is why content marketing is so powerful.

      Thanks again.

  3. I admire your once a week blog post as I know how hard it is to fit in with everything else. It’s my ongoing goal… Content marketing is definitely one of the best way to turn prospective customers into buyers as you have a real opportunity to show expertise and position yourself as an authority in a particular niche with the creation of great content. And the second part of content creation is the promotion through all the channels that are appropriate for the particular product or service. Good post!

    1. Thanks, Midge. It certainly takes a fair amount of discipline. You and Mike at High Profile Enterprises can take some credit because you have been a great source of information for me. I love those 1000-plus word epics!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *