Content marketing has suddenly become a popular marketing technique that everyone is clamoring to take part in. However, content marketing isn’t new, nor is it what everyone thinks it is.
You see, content marketing has been around as long as marketing has been around. Content marketing is simply a more in-depth marketing experience that you provide for your customers.
The reason it’s become vogue over the past year is due to the changes in Google’s algorithm.
When Google announced that Hummingbird would be an engine that relied on content and context, SEOs around the world began screaming that content marketing was the only solution for ranking in the search engines. And, in part, they’re correct. But they’re also missing the bigger picture.
Content marketing isn’t a gimmick that helps trick the search engines. Nor is it a one-size-fits-all technique that can be shared from industry to industry. Content marketing is the process of your company sharing thoughts and ideas with your customers in the hope that you can create a relationship between the two parties.
Does this mean that content has to be long? No. Does this mean that content has to be text-based? No. In fact, all this means is that you need to share useful information with your customers. Whether you decide to do this through video, images, articles, blogs or speaking engagements, the outcome is the same. You’re imparting some of your knowledge and expertise with your customers in order to build a relationship of trust.
This means that an onsite blog is not content marketing on its own. Likewise, a robust social media presence does not make you a content marketer. Rather, content marketing is performed through a homogenous utilization of all your marketing mediums.
So, now that we’ve defined content marketing, what are some of the techniques that you can use?
1. Video Content
Whether you want to do daily video blogs or want to create a quick, 30-second "explainer" video, just make sure you’re giving your customer useful information. Most commercials for companies aren’t shared and don’t go viral. The reason being, no one wants to be sold. The videos that are shared are the ones that give customers knowledge, make them laugh, make them think or make them feel a strong emotion.
So, when you’re brainstorming your next video, don’t ask the question, “How can we share our message?” Instead, ask, “How can we entertain our customers?”
Think back on the products and brands that you remember because of their commercials. It’s probably not the ones that made a 30-second spot telling you how great they are. You probably think of the companies that entertained you with their message.
2. Give Before You Receive
Companies often find it difficult to give away their tricks and tips. They fear that if the general public receives this guarded information they won’t have any use for the company. However, the exact opposite is true. Most people don’t want to do the work themselves. They love to know why and how the work is being delivered, but they don’t want to get their hands dirty.
I’m a marketer. As such, I spend my days marketing. However, I’m also an avid tech geek. I’m constantly reading up on how to optimize my tech or set my house up as a tech hub. But do I actually go out and do the work myself? No. I don’t have the time to run wiring through my house or negotiate with manufacturers to receive the best prices on equipment. Instead, I hire a reputable group that I know can handle the job. And the way I vet them is by asking questions I already know the answers to.
You, as a marketer, want to create informed customers. They’re easier to handle with customer service and they rarely bother you with the mundane elements of your services or products. Additionally, if they come to you because of the information you disseminated, you know there’s already a level of trust between the two of you.
One of the most successful companies I know gives away all of their secrets freely over the internet. They create two-to-three minute long how-to videos and post them on their site, promote them on social media, and share them religiously. Those videos have been the single most effective marketing activity that company has ever done.
3. Promote Your Content
Content marketing is rarely a “build it and they will come” scenario. Content needs to be promoted. There are numerous techniques in doing this, and not all of them require money.
Reaching out to journalists and media sources with a ready-made story is an effective way of getting coverage for your business. Giving those media outlets a piece of content that they can share with their audience is an even better way of gaining coverage.
Also, you can share your content through social media for a relatively low amount of money. Promoting a video that you know your customers are likely to share is a great way to get the ball rolling on a viral hit.
Another great way of promoting your content is to get someone with an established social following to help you. Many popular individuals on social media would be more than happy to help you spread the word on your content if the content is engaging and useful. All you have to do is ask.
These are just a few of the techniques that you can use in content marketing. There are literally hundreds more I could share but time isn’t on our side. Instead, seek out those that are willing to share their content with you and learn from their actions. And when you decide to create your own content and perform your own marketing, always remember to keep the content entertaining and useful.