What is content marketing and why is it powerful?
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 60% 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 only 14% of consumers trust 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.
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 weekly blogs 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.
How to promote your content
The ideal home for your content is your website. This is because websites that are updated regularly with fresh content have much more authority in the eyes of Google than static sites.
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.