What is Content Marketing and How to Include it in your Marketing Mix

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I’d be lying if I told you that content marketing was something new in the toolkit for marketers.  Sure, it’s a concept that has only recently generating a huge increase in buzz among many marketers, but content marketing has been around for decades.

Prior to updates to the Google search algorithm, the quality of a websites content didn’t matter much. People placed the majority of their efforts in simply generating back links by any means necessary with little worry about the contests value and substance. With these updates however, Google has changed the way search is done and is moving the magnifying glass back on top of great content. No longer are marketers going to find great results from sending out a few press releases for SEO or commenting on a handful of blogs. Instead, businesses most focus on providing valuable, rich and compelling content that their target audience would find interesting.

If you don’t think content marketing is important, lets look at the concept a bit closer:

What is Content Marketing?

Great content marketing can take your business from a small little razor company to a viral sensation. That’s exactly what happen when the guys at One Dollar Shave Club launched their store using a simple video:

The great thing about content marketing is that it lives in a variety of different forms. Whether you’re creating a video, an Ebook or a blog post; content marketing is all about providing value and building a relationship with your target audience. Content marketing is when a brand makes an effort to develop a variety of different pieces of content that their audience will find valuable. This content can provide their audience with either entertainment value or educational value.

It’s a cost effective and arguably the most effective way to achieve great results for SEO these days. Not only does creating high quality content produce links at a quicker pace than building them manually, it’s also an easy way to generate social sharing. When you’re producing content that people find valuable, they’ll share that value with their friends.

What types of content should you create?

If you are looking for opportunities to generate more results from your marketing efforts, you need to consider evaluating or establishing a content marketing strategy. If you’re in the online business, this is a no brainer. If you’re in the consulting business, this is a no brainer. If you’re running a business period, this should be a no brainer.

While industries differ and the interests and understanding of technology amongst target audiences are not always the same, the type of content you create isn’t always the same either. Whether you’re using an ebook, case study or blog post, you have to recognize the importance of sharing your story with your target audience in a relevant, yet valuable way.

This diagram highlights a variety of different types of content that need to be considered:

PyramidContent

As I said earlier, content marketing isn’t new. It’s been around for years. It’s a marketing effort that doesn’t require a business to reinvent the wheel. For those businesses who have been around for decades, they’ve been creating content for years without even knowing it. From John Deere to Coca-Cola, content marketing has become a part of business as usual. Pearl Black once said “if you want to understand today, you have to first search through yesterday.”

When it comes to marketing, a lot of inspiration and theory can be taken from old literature.  Furthermore, the utilization of this look and feel will also present people with a chance to (1) steal it or (2) do something with it. Modern companies should have content marketing within their DNA and not second guess whether or not they can generate a new stream of revenue directly from this channel.

Still not sold?

Proof that Content Marketing is For Real

I’m not trying to sell you on Batman. I’m not trying to sell you on religion. I’m selling you on understanding the importance and value you can provide as a business through content marketing. We as humans consume content on a daily basis. As you read this, you’re reading content. This word. That word. The one three words ago, that was a part of this piece of content. These words are me providing you with value to understand the power of content. What type of value can you provide the people your business serves to make them believe that piece of content is worth sharing?

Here are a few interesting stats that simply reiterate the importance of content marketing with figures:

  • Interesting content is a top 3 reason people follow brands on social media. (Content+)
  • Blogs give websites 434% more indexed pages and 97% more indexed links. (Content+)
  • B2B companies with blogs generate 67% more leads per month on average than non-blogging firms. (Social Media B2B)
  • 64% of B2B marketers rate case studies as the most effective content marketing tactic. (TopRankBlog)

But wait, there’s more. You remember when I said that content marketing wasn’t new? Here’s what I meant.

Vintage Ads for Blog Inspiration

VintageContentMarketing
The advertisement on your left is from Xerox. It’s a full page ad that shares with magazine readers a myth about Microfilm. Towards the end of the advertisement Xerox provides the reader with a soft pitch on why Xerox is the product for them. It’s similar to what you would find on the bottom of most business blogs today except they would ask you for an email. It’s the idea of generating a lead from content.

Furthermore, when you look at this ad, it’s the idea of sharing a myth that really stands out when it comes to content marketing. Debunking or confirming a myth is a great way to generate attention. If you’re working in the fashion industry, you might share or write a blog post titled the “The Myth about Wearing White After Labour Day” or “Does Black make You Look Skinny?”

In the middle, we have an ad from General Electric. It’s an editorial piece that showcases 8 reasons why you get more light per dollar with GE Lighting. This is a format that most readers are familiar with as there are entire websites dedicated to creating great lists. Whether it’s a list of great advertising books or a list of the best productivity apps; lists are an easy way to generate content that readers want to consume and share. General Electric recognized this opportunity back in the 70′s and it still holds true today.

Finally, the last ad plays on the concept of desire and what is now referred to as link bait. It plays on the idea that a woman has a deep desire to get married and that this editorial will catch their attention. The key objective here is to grab the users attention. When you’re creating blog posts, it’s often times a good strategy to develop a title that plays on your target audiences desires and wants. If you can do that, you can quickly generate that initial click and then captivate them with compelling content within the post.

Conclusion

Now that you know content marketing is important for your business, understand that simply pushing out a constant stream of content won’t guarantee results. Over the last couple years I’ve tested a lot of different types of content and certain types produce better results than others. Here are a few types that you should keep in mind:

  • Reactive Content: You develop this type of content by combining a top of mind idea and story with a a brand relevant twist. For example, when Prince Harry got drunk in Vegas; Las Vegas Tourism took full advantage of their instant publicity.
  • Awesome Infographics: People love to share infographics that are (1) unique and (2) well designed. It’s important to keep in mind the fact that this market is being filled with noise and you need to cut through. Settle for nothing less than awesome.
  • Inspirational Content: People wan’t to feel reaffirmed that everything is going to be okay. Sharing inspirational quotes as tweets or writing blog posts that are filled with inspiration and wisdom are great ways to get shared. Positive thinking works.
  • Email Marketing: It’s an approach that many people overlook but one that shouldn’t be ignored. While Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook are the new kids on the block, email is the senior who still is not only tried but also tested. With success, I might add.

So what do you think about content marketing? Are you using it for your business? Please leave a comment below!

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Ross Simmonds
Ross Simmonds is a digital strategist, public speaker and entrepreneur. He's currently writing  Stand Out: A Content Marketing Guide for Entrepreneurs which highlights how businesses can use content marketing to drive meaningful and measurable results
Ross Simmonds

@thecoolestcool

Digital Strategist | Startup Whisperer | Speaker | Writer | @Eagles Fan | Lover Of Fresh Prince of Bel Air Re-Runs & Technology
@tyronem True story. It's one great feature that FB has rolled out for messenger. @Twitter needs it. - 2 hours ago
Ross Simmonds
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