Content Marketing – Stop Selling and Start Giving
They say the more you give, the more it will find ways to return to you, and the more you will get in return. I don’t know if they realize it or not, but this is also a solid marketing principle.
It is no secret that TV ads are louder. Marketers know that attention is important. But they do it wrong. Rather than looking for a way to grab attention by exploring interest, they shout louder, use funny lines, take advantage of sex to sell, and other techniques.
I never claim that those techniques don’t work. In fact, in certain situation, they do very well. But if your only strategy to win is to be the greatest or loudest, admittedly that may be too insecure. It is just a matter of time before others take over your current position.
The End of Conventional Marketing as We Know It
People avoid the word sales or marketing like a plague. They know they are going to be bombarded with over-hypey sales message. Before they know it, money may flow out of the wallet for the product they don’t really want or need.
Content marketing is the preferred method to get the message out about your products or services. This strategy is not new at all but with the Internet, dissemination of information becomes much more effective, making it more useful to everyone.
Here are some of the benefits of content marketing:
- Prospects and customers come to you instead of the other way around. Sure, you still have to promote and get it out there for people to discover it. But once they know you’re there, they come to you to get more. When you offer information, people are more likely to pay attention too.
- More likely to get endorsement. People rarely endorse products unless they really believe in it. Information makes it easier for people to tell others especially because it is genuinely helpful. And the risk can’t be lower. Sure, the readers need to spend some time to glimpse the information, but they could just click away if they don’t like it. Free information can also be downloaded and read immediately almost at no cost of delivery, thanks to the Internet.
- Relatively low cost. That depends. You can spend a lot of money researching high quality content but anyone can start without a hefty investment. Just spend some time pouring interesting information and compile content in a useful format.
- Increased visibility and findablity. Syndicated content makes you or your business more visible. Bloggers link to your blog. Your site appears in search engine listings. Email readers forward your email to friends and colleagues.
- Content works for you 24/7, without fail. Even when you’re sleeping, your content conveys your message to people who read them. You may even get an order while you are not in front of your computer monitoring your site.
- Highly flexible and can easily be repurposed. With a bit of creativity, you can turn article into blog posts, audio podcasts, screencasts, e-course, an e-book, and other formats. The sky is really the limit.
- A platform where community grows. With a bit of planning, you can turn your site into a community. At this stage you may not have to generate your own content. Think user generated content.
What is the Content in Content Marketing?
People often think an advertorial as “the” method of content marketing. They can’t imagine how poeple could give something away for free without selling because they have been accustomed with conventional marketing strategies for so long.
The fact is, advertorial is just one format of content marketing. There is a higher level approach, which involves no selling at all. No sugarcoating. No trick but content.
Two main types of content fill the new world of content-based marketing:
- Editorial content. Blog posts, white papers, periodicals, newspaper articles, workshops, and seminars are just several formats of content that are part of this category. Arguably, web-based tools are also a type of editorial content because it gives something useful for people to use. Distribution of editorial content can be a problem but blogs and social media make it a no-brainer process. It is possible to build your own repository of content that target a segment of the market — your niche. Sounds pretty much like a media outlet, right? Because it is, indeed.
- Commercial content. From classified ads to catalogs, directories and Yellow Pages, those are commercial content. Sometimes people want commercial content even more than editorial content. That’s especially true if the targeting and timing are correct. A specific promotional content that encourages people to take action immediately and get a discount / coupon will be sought after by prospects who are ready to buy. They want this type of content more than anything else.
A hybrid approach to content marketing exists. It is a combination of both types of content above. Sponsored blog posts, research papers, and meetups are some examples of hybrid content. Advertorials mostly are hybrid. It contains sales message encapsulated in a piece of editorial content.
Content Marketing Examples from Different Industries
If you look around, people use content marketing in every industry you could imagine. Think that content marketing can’t work for your business? Hopefully after reading these few examples, you change your mind and at least give it a try.
- Singers, music artists, and bands give away a few free tracks. This is a no-risk way to get people to “try” them. If people really like it, they will buy the full album. As the result, they also get the publicity and build fan base.
- A dentist sends out or gives away a booklet reminding the prospective clients the importance of regular maintenance and cleaning. Perhaps she even tells people why the method she uses is the safest and with minimal discomfort of all.
- Technology companies release a white paper explaining the new technology and how it will impact the industry, with figures and business cases to support their claims.
- Web designers shows people why their method brings the highest return on investment. At the same time they increase the value of their offerings and are able to charge a higher rate.
- Instant food manufacturers demonstrate how to cook their products properly to retain the nutrition, and of course, to serve it quickly. This information can be used in a blog or as an update via Facebook page.
Content can be informative. It can also be fun at the same time. The latter encourages people to talk about it. Enough people do the same, and it produces a viral effect.
Whatever your approach is, people are attracted to content. They proactively find more information through search engines and other media channels.
A World Where Content Matters Everywhere…
Content certainly is important in the brick-and-mortar world, but there are a whole lot more to do and benefit from in the online world.
Without content, the Internet is nothing. Certainly there are unsolicited content such as spam, which is bad content but let’s focus on the positive side of things.
- Content for search engines. Bloggers optimize their content for search engines. They post quality information to get inbound links, which are utmost critical for search engine rankings.
- Reaching people whenever and wherever they want. With portable devices (media players and cellphones), people demand that content consumption happens at their time and place. If you are not there, you simply don’t exist. Audio and video podcasts, mobile-friendly web sites are several examples of content that you can create to reach mobile users.
- Spam-free content. Again people want control. They are in control. Email is still a powerful way to reach the audience but some people prefer RSS feed nowadays. A blog offers built-in RSS feed that delivers updates of your content to the subscribers. Best of all, the content is spam free. They can unsubscribe at any time if they don’t like your message.
- User generated content. Instead of being a passive consumer, people want to contribute, if given the chance. A blog is just a way to interact and participate in a discussion. Social media web sites provide people with a platform to generate content for others to see.
- New rules of public relation. Press release is no longer only about announcement. You’d better provide value to the readers or you should stop thinking about publicity through PR campaigns.
You see, content is everywhere and people need it. Not just random piece of content though. That’s why as a marketer you should strategically place your content to bring the most impact to your business and marketing.
How to Get Started Wherever You Are…
Understanding content marketing is critical. While bloggers are web publishers, they should not take the traditional broadcasting path. Ultimately, it should be a two-way conversation or group discussion.
Here’s how you can tap into content marketing:
- Take an inventory of what you currently have. Yes, perhaps to your surprise you don’t have to start from scratch. If you have been in business for some time chances are you already have content of some sort ready to be used. Evergreen information are easy to adjust and rewrite.
- Start something that foster interaction. A blog is a perfect way to get your message out and solicit feedback. Over time the content will be there for others to see. It also will be available to increase your search engine visibility.
- Know your audience. I learned this the hard way. My target market comprised of newbie to intermediate and even seasoned bloggers. So I ended spending a lot of time writing great articles, but it took perhaps 10 times longer to write an article targeting seasoned bloggers than a quick article for newbie. That happened because I was not being clear about my goal, which was to generate as many new subscribers to my e-course as possible. I should have reached at least 5 times as many people if I stick with the basic stuff.
- Don’t be afraid to use and reuse. I never think it is a good idea to reinvent the wheel. It’s another thing to innovate, but never give yourself too much pressure for doing that. Some people frown upon basic bloggging information, but there are still millions who haven’t even known how to blog. In my case, I should probably spend less of the time thinking about innovation but on how to make information easier to consume for the new readers.
- Fit it into your product funnel. Free now has its place at the top of the product funnel, but you don’t want to be there at all time. If you decide to take the information business path, eventually you have to produce premium content for sale.
- Crowdsourcing. Businesses who are into social media should ignite the conversations and let the community brings it wherever they want. You can setup a Facebook page or group. It is even possible to build your own social network now. You can provide the platform to let users produce content for you.
- Spend time listening. Use social monitoring tools to tune in and listen to conversations that are going on. This may lead to interaction with your target market, or at the very least, ideas for your next content.
- Track your result. You can’t improve what you don’t measure. Enough said.
Without a doubt, those are just the beginning. Content marketing certainly is a huge topic. And you can be sure this is not the last time I blog about it.
Quick Information about the Limited “Giveaway”
Sorry, the contest is now over.
A lot of people struggle to get technology work for them. For instance, if you already have content, how do you get it up on the Web quickly? If you have to fight and spend as much time as producing the content to publish it, certainly it wouldn’t be too long before you give up.
Or at least it costs a whole lot more to outsource or hire people who will do it for you.
People who read this blog know that I use WordPress to manage this site. No longer it is just a blog software, but a full-blown site management tool. Don’t let the term scare you though. It is actually a point and click process.
Packt Publishing has been kind enough to give away 3 PDF books for my loyal readers. After carefully reviewing them, here’s my pick.
If you are interested in content marketing, WordPress for Business Bloggers gives you an introductory information to content marketing and how to implement it with WordPress.
The book content includes how to optimize your WordPress blog for search engines, analyzing your blog stats and monetizing your blog. It will shorten your learning curve if you are just getting started.
Either that, or you may pick one of the WordPress books published by Packt. Your choice.
Here’s how you could win 1 of the 3 copies of the book giveaway:
- Retweet this post, or leave comment below. Every RT or comment earns one point, and/or…
- Blog and link to this post. Every blogger who links to this post gets two points.
Two weeks after the date of this post, I’ll use random.org to generate random numbers and pick three winners. Each winner will win one copy of the book (in PDF format). Either the above title, or your pick. (Packt currently has 4 WordPress related books.)
That’s it. Thanks. Let the winning begin!
Update: Picked 3 winners. They are: @smokeysmom, @kimkalhoun, and Peter Crosskey. Thanks for your participation and congratulations!
Return to Blog Content – How to Write Great Content and Where to Get Them.
Return to Blog Tips for a Better Blog — Blog Building University.