How To Succeed With Your Content Marketing Strategy
It seems that in the business world there is hardly a year that goes by without some new word or phrase becoming almost de rigueur in its use for those who see themselves as pushing the envelope to stay ahead of the curve in business thought leadership.
Sometimes these phrases are simply meaningless waffle. Sometimes they are nothing more than new ways of talking about old things. Into that second category I should place: “content marketing” and “content is king“. The phrases may have recent origins: but what they refer to are as old as business itself.
The internet is new: marketing is not new. Traders have been marketing their goods and services for as long as human beings have been producing goods and providing services. It’s not easy to define marketing. You’ll find dozens of definitions. It’s not difficult though to say that marketing is not just about selling: it never has been; it never will be.
One explanation of the marketing function that I like is one that emphasizes that it is concerned with satisfying customer needs. In order to do that you need to communicate with your customers and allow them to communicate with you. This is why content marketing and the idea that content is king have always been central to the marketing function.
What Is Content Marketing?
Here is the definition of content marketing given by the Content Marketing Institute:
Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.
Content marketing, therefore is about providing your customers and your prospective customers with quality information. If you do this well it will help you and your company become trusted and it will help build loyalty to your brand. The Michelin Guide (first published in 1900) was an early example of content marketing. The term was not used back then – the term it seems originates from the 1990s – but the Michelin Guide was published to provide relevant, valuable information to a particular audience.
Very importantly, do note that the content in content marketing is material that is high quality, relevant and valuable. The idea that content is king is only partly correct. High quality content is king: it always was. The Michelin Guide was successful because it contained high quality information that its audience found useful.
What has changed since the days of the first Michelin Guide is the number of media available on which marketers can publish their content. Marketers are no longer restricted to print. The internet has opened up a new world of opportunities where the old rules still apply.
Remember You Are Writing for an Audience Not a Search Engine
I know you want to get to the top of the Google search engine results pages. You may have spent quite a bit of money in doing this. But there is more to attracting and keeping customers than ranking high on search engine results. And since the recent changes to Google’s search algorithms, poor quality content won’t get you up there anyway. You are writing for your audience. Good marketers have always known this. Jonathan Long excoriates websites that scream:
Outsourced!’ Years ago it was possible to achieve high website rankings with content that was jam packed with keywords. Many companies exploited this and outsourced their web content and were more concerned with the keyword density rather than the grammar and readability of the content.
If you write for your audience, and you do this well, you will be providing your audience with what they want: good quality information. By giving your audience what they want, they are more likely to deal with you; the brand they have come to trust. If they deal with you once, they are likely to deal with you again. If they are prepared to deal with you, they are more likely to recommend you to other people. They are also likely to share the content that you have produced for them with other people: and that is something that search engines count very favorably.
Content may be king but it is the customer who rules.
Content Includes Images
We live in a world that is increasingly visual. Again this is not new. Long before there was Pinterest and YouTube, there was television and the movies: and long before they existed Phoenician traders would draw pictures of their goods on rocks. Human culture has always been highly visual. As Mars Dorian says:
Whether it’s Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram, people love showing and sharing images online. And it’s not only the “normal” crowd. In the tech and marketing world, it’s infographics and cartoon-based marketing campaigns that get spread just as fanatically.
There is something to be said about the old saying that a picture paints a thousand words. It goes without saying that any visuals you use should look good, be relevant and add something that enhances the customer’s experience. It can be disorienting to have visual content that is out of place and downright annoying as well.
However, if you use visual content appropriately, it can stimulate readers by bringing to life the text that they are reading. Also, a video can explain by showing things that are close to impossible to explain in words – try to explain how to tie a show lace!
Make Content Marketing Part of Your Marketing Strategy
Again this is not something that is new. Businesses have always done it. You may now see job titles that have a reference to content marketing in them: you wouldn’t have seen that twenty years ago. But there’s always been someone who has been responsible for the company’s marketing literature.
What has changed, however, is that you have to plan how you are going to exploit all the new media avenues that the internet has opened up. How will your content marketing plan take advantage of social media, email marketing and video and photo sharing platforms, for example? And how will this all fit in with more traditional marketing channels – the Michelin Guide is still published today, take careful note.
Content Marketing has always been with us. It is here to stay. High quality information will always be king.