It’s a fairly well-established fact these days that the effectiveness of traditional mass media marketing is fading, and fading fast. That is largely due to the fact that consumers today are much more skeptical and wield much more power than ever before. Consumers trust little of what companies say about themselves, and rely heavily upon what others are saying about the quality of the companies’ products and services.
Increasingly, today's consumers are fanatical fact-gatherers, turning first to search engines and authoritative online sources in an effort to find any information they can on a topic they have interest in—especially products or services they need. They most certainly DO NOT want to be sold to.
To create the kind of raving fans you want and need in business today, you have to show the world that you are a rock star by telling compelling stories your prospective customers want to hear. And guess what? They don’t care about what you’re selling, they care only about themselves. So your stories have to be about what’s important to them.
Although the concept has been around for a very long time, the term and the acceptance of content marketing as a powerful marketing concept has really only gained prominence in the last few years. As a marketing strategy, it is known as many things, including: inbound marketing, branded storytelling, custom publishing, branded content, and corporate media, to name just a few.
It used to be that marketing was about “acquiring” new customers. But, times have changed and that “capture” mentality has given way to a more subtle approach.
Now successful companies focus on attracting prospects with interesting and informative materials, allowing them to familiarize themselves with their offerings, and then converting them into customers. From there, further nurturing is designed to not only retain customers, but to empower them as vocal brand advocates.
According to the Content Marketing Institute:
For your company, this involves starting to think differently about marketing and content. It means seeing your organization as a publisher rather than a provider of products and services. It takes a firm commitment to providing content for your prospective customers that addresses their wants, needs, and interests rather than touting your company’s “industry-leading product line” and impressive client list.
But it's not just about creating content. It's also about using that content in ways that help produce amazing inbound customer experiences, because those experiences are the best measure of your current success and the best predictors of future results.
It is critical to think through the audience for whom your content is intended, and for which stage in the buying cycle.
Develop content for the specific needs of each of your typical customers. Through buyer persona identification you will be able to understand the following for each:
Give thought to the specific purpose for which the content is being created.
You also want to make decisions as to how accessible the content is going to be. Is it going to be:
While the tendency is to gate everything, readership is ten times higher for ungated content. So the question is, do you want prospects to consume your content and be drawn in by your insights, or do you want to only exchange your content for their personal information, knowing that most will lose interest and leave?
It is easy to think of content as just text on your website. But content can be any number of formats, and each of the following should be explored:
It is important to make your primary content platform a platform you own, i.e. your website or blog. Then, you need to consider the channels you're going to post your content on, including the following: