Content marketing is quite different from traditional marketing, in which the goal is to “shout” loud and proud about the product or service being promoted. Content marketing involves no shouting since it does not focus on the promotion of a specific product or service. In fact, content marketing tends to lose its impact when it becomes too promotional in nature. Instead, content marketing is about being a thought leader, which in turn draws in new customers and boosts the loyalty of old ones.
So what are the “best practices” when it comes to this new frontier in marketing?
Stay Away from Selling. As counterintuitive as it sounds, as soon as an article or blog begins to read like a sales pitch, it actually loses its power to create sales and marketing opportunities. People are interested in their own needs and challenges—not your company and products. Becoming a thought leader gives you the opportunity to discuss your potential customers’ problems and to offer them solutions. This puts them “in your corner” and makes them more open to hearing about your company and what it has to offer. As one content marketing guru puts it, “With content marketing, you don’t tell the world you’re a rock star. You show them that you are with valuable, credible content.”
Solve Problems. Recently, after taking a two-week vacation, I returned home to find that the sound on my Sony Bravia television no longer worked. I checked all the connections and everything else I could think of, but could not figure out what the problem was. Then I Googled “sound problems with Sony Bravia.” To my surprise, several pages popped up, including one created by a local TV repair expert. His advice: unplug the set, wait five minutes, plug it back in, and turn it on. Voila: it worked! And I’m sure you can guess who I’ll call first if I ever need a TV repairman.
Repurpose and Repackage. Whether you work with a PR/communications firm or prepare your own content for trade publications, you may find that once you publish your content, it quickly disappears from the public eye. But content marketers often use repurposed or repackaged content (provided the information is not time sensitive) in their materials, where it can be read and provide value to potential customers for years to come.
Use Images and Videos. A 2011 study conducted by a content marketing firm found that articles and blog posts accompanied by an image “performed 91 percent better than those without them.” Another study, this one by 3M, found that 90 percent of the information that travels through the human brain is visual in nature. Including images and/or videos as part of a content marketing strategy can prove very powerful and have more lasting impact than postings without visual content.
Promotion. Content marketing sites must be adequately promoted to be successful. This means they must be search engine optimized, including keywords, descriptions, and credible content that grabs the attention of search engines. They should also be used in conjunction with social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and (for B2B companies) LinkedIn. Always include links to these social media sites when posting to your content marketing platform.