The What: Define Content Marketing
I’m sure you’re asking yourself, “How does one define content marketing, what does it do, who is it for, and how do I use it?”
Well, there’s one word that perfectly encompasses what content marketing is… any guesses
Google defines a backbone as the chief support of a system or organization.
When it comes to marketing – everything, and I mean EVERYTHING is supported by content. This strategic form of marketing places emphasis on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content.
To better define content marketing you can compare it to pitching your products or services. When creating sales content, you’re literally trying to convince people that your brand is the best and that your products and services are right for them!
So What Is Content Marketing in Simple Words?
In simplest terms, true content marketing is about providing truly relevant and useful content to your prospects and current customers that will help them solve their issues. To further define content marketing you can understand it as content that speaks to your prospective customer’s pain points, or problems, they may be experiencing. And it speaks to your “why” or your values.
So rather than selling something right out of the gate, you’re enlisting in playing the slow game – much like organic reach in social media marketing.
Your goal should be to create content that creates a conversation, which will eventually render sales down the road.
The How and the Why
You may be thinking, “Now that I can define content marketing, how do I leverage it to benefit my company?” and “What is included in content marketing?”
The answer to that is stories! It’s true. A big part of content marketing includes telling stories.
Can you think of a single person who doesn’t like to hear a good story?
No! I’m sure you can’t. That’s because stories are universal tools used in every area of life, especially marketing.
So why stories?
We, humans, are emotional creatures meaning we “feel” things. Storytelling allows you to establish and grow a connection with your customer base by appealing to them emotionally, thus making the information easier to digest.
With a properly crafted narrative, you can evoke happiness, hopefulness, and urgency with one single message.
And, with the rapid growth of all things digital, it’s imperative you understand how to translate your company’s story, your products, and your services on various online platforms without being salesy at face value.
So tell, don’t sell.
Robert McKee of the Story Seminar once said, “Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.” This idea has been proven as fact, time and time again, just think about the power of narrative in the news, in marketing, and all around you.
Now, digital storytelling requires a different perspective and a revised set of best practices because of all the “noise” present on online mediums.
You may be asking yourself, “What noise?” Well, imagine you’re scrolling through your Facebook page — what do you see?
Now your answer to this question places you in one of two categories: ad blindness or ad overload.
Ad blindness takes place when you view your Facebook feed and intentionally or unintentionally don’t notice the ads. You may or may not recognize that they’re there, but either way, you nonchalantly scroll over them.
Ad overload exists when you see all the ads present and feel “overloaded” by their excessive presence on your feed.
Photo courtesy of Top Rank Marketing.
Take a look at this infographic. Although it only accounts for years 1996-2010, we know this number has only continued to rise — just think about how dynamically your Facebook feed has changed over the last 5 years! This is why knowing how to properly define content marketing is so imperative — I’ll stop scrolling my feed for a quick recipe or life hack video over a generic post.
So how do you stand out amidst all the stories being told online every day? Follow these pro tips.
- Every Story Isn’t A Good Story – Make sure your story connects to something that’s bigger than yourself. Simply put, you should bridge the gap for your target audience. Know what their needs are, and tell them how you can fill it. I’m sure you’ve seen the very controversial Colin Kaepernick Nike campaign, “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything”. That’s a good story, isn’t it? And it’s connected to a purpose bigger than athletic wear.
- Build A Curiosity Gap – In content marketing, we often try to create content that’s bite-sized to combat with consumers’ short attention spans. But maybe we’ve got it all wrong… It comes down to that age-old saying, “People make time for what and who they want to make time for”. Think about the last time an ad engaged you — what made you pay attention to it? Possibly that there was a curiosity gap between what you knew and what you wanted to know. So you stay engaged long enough to find out the answer. Now, if you can accomplish this in a “snackable” size do so, but don’t be afraid to give them something they can really chew on!
- Promotional or Educational – Content marketing extends beyond sales collateral and other product-specific info but offers the customer value.Remember that even you, as a marketer, is also a consumer. You’ve probably purchased a thing or two online from brands – starting from small to well known ones. So put yourself in the shoes of your customers. Aren’t you tired of believing promises and making purchases only to find out later on that what they said were all untrue? When you become a credible source of information you’re gaining the loyalty and trust of your consumers. And your business is more likely to be discovered by the right people. Determining which content type you want to create is just as important as defining your target audience.
Now, I want to revisit “snackable” vs. “bitesize” content. Here are a couple examples of snackable sized content marketing:
This 60-second marketing LYFE Hack video can help small business owners focus on what’s important and spend time on what matters most. It also answers the pain point, “Is it really important to define your target audience? If so, why?”
Why is she useful? To the 16-year-old girl shopping at Forever 21, she becomes a living breathing style icon AKA an exemplary figure of how they should look when they leave their house in the morning. And how do they achieve this look? By shopping at Forever 21.
Neither of these sources sold anything directly but rather positioned each organization as a thought leader and a source of information and inspiration in their perspective fields.
Now, for bite-sized content marketing, a good example is this blog post here: The Importance of Social Media. Another good example is this FREE Webinar on Tripling Sales Through Digital Marketing presented by our digital marketing guru Melody Hosler.
Again, neither piece of content sold anything to you directly, but I’m sure you’re more interested in what we do as a company and feel inspired to peruse our website and read through our blogs.
And who knows, you may also feel inspired to feel 21 again! Either way, you experienced the power that content marketing holds! YAY!
A few other examples of content marketing include case studies, eBooks, webinars, newsletters, forums, podcasts, checklists, white papers, presentations, infographics, etc., all of which can be made snackable or bite-sized.
In terms of subject matter sometimes you have to tell a fresh story or offer a new perspective on who your company is and what they do. Don’t be afraid to get outside the box and maybe even a little…punny!
Take Church’s Chicken for example. In 2015 they sponsored a “drumming” competition and created a documentary on extreme drumming. That’s content that addressed their objectives as a business while simultaneously capturing their audience’s attention.
Remember This When You Define Content Marketing
Something to remember, good content marketing is an investment! So it’s important you have a tool to measure your content marketing achievement.
Did you know on average only 41% of small business owners are sure that their content marketing efforts are working? That means there’s another 59% of small business owners who can’t truly gauge whether or not their strategy is effective.
Another useful stat to keep in mind is that 82% of people feel a positive connection to a company that uses content marketing! Typically, this results in 3X the leads for every marketing dollar spent.
And these aren’t just any leads, they are quality leads – meaning people came in contact with content that solved their pain point specifically. Such custom content can attract your target audience with close to laser-point accuracy — that’s pretty darn close!
Without that data, you’ll never be able to properly optimize your strategies and get maximum results!
But with proper optimizations you can expect the following:
- More clicks
- Higher conversion rates
- Higher up-sell potential
- Greater purchase frequency
So, make sure you have the proper analytic tools to measure your content marketing efforts accurately. This way you can amplify your success rates over a shorter amount of time.
The Who, When, and Where
After all of that, can you guess who should use content marketing?
If you’re thinking to yourself, “Everyone,” you are 100% correct!
Everyone, be it marketer, business owner, or content curator, they should all know how to define content marketing and how to use it for the benefit of their brand!
In fact, many large, prominent organizations use content marketing — P&G, Microsoft, Cisco Systems, and John Deere are all part of the list.
And don’t feel daunted because your company isn’t that size! Small businesses and one-person shops find success using content marketing too. Why? Because it works.
Make sure you’re creating content as often and consistently as you possibly can. The frequency should be based on what makes the most sense for your business.
Be sure to use the web-based mediums your target audience is most engaged with. This would include places like your company blog and social media sites!
Recap: Define Content Marketing
I’ve told you how to define content marketing and implement it using the who, what, where, when, why, how to approach. You’ve read stats on how it can help grow your business and why it’s important to measure your success for optimization.
Hopefully, you’ve gained a new fresh perspective on content marketing, its purpose, and how to do it right! So, the time has come — now that you know how to define content marketing in the digital marketing world, it’s time you give it a try.
But just in case you’re confused about where to get started here’s a list of action points and things to think through:
- Define content marketing for your business
- What’s your “why”?
- What problem or problems do your products/services solve?
- What story or stories will you use to offer solutions?
- Who is your target audience? Note, this one is last intentionally. Once you can define your why, what, and how, you can easily determine your who.
- How will your content be valuable and relevant?
- Create a custom strategy
- How will you go about creating your content?
- Do you have the team internally to handle such a project?
- Should you outsource your content marketing?
- Can you create consistent content that’s engaging and useful? Remember, this is a long haul strategy, so creating one piece of content marketing isn’t enough. To create a true snowball effect you’ll need several consistently good quality pieces to get the ball rolling.
- How often will you release new content?
- What mediums will you use to get your content seen?
- How will you measure your content marketing success?
- How will you go about creating your content?
- Implement your strategy
- Start seeing positive results
- Optimize results for an even greater return
What if you’re already using content marketing but want to boost your current strategy?
- Vary the format of content you’re creating by trying one or more of these:
- How-to: Teach your customers how to do something. Example: How to use your product in a unique way.
- Compilation: Compile third-party content on a topic. Example: Essential advice from 5 experts on a topic of your choice.
- Consideration piece: Summarize your findings and opinions on a topic of your choice. Example: How IGTV has changed the marketing world forever.
- Why or Cause and Impact piece: Explain why something is, and how it impacts the community at large. Example: Why content marketing is more effective than traditional ads.
- Create content for every step of your customers’ journey from awareness to purchase.
Photo courtesy of EZ.
Hopefully, the lists above have you well on your way to creating content that’s truly stellar.
But if that’s not the case and your content marketing seems unmanageable or you just don’t have the time, we’d love to help!
We’re experts at creating engaging content that’ll bring value to your customer, and keep them coming back.
Let us get you real results today — contact us for a consultation.