Content marketing is all the buzz in the marketing and PR/communications industries as the new way to grow your business’s online presence. If this is the first you’ve heard of it, get ready–you most likely will be hearing much more about it in the near future and may even be directly involved with it.
While it is unlikely to replace traditional marketing efforts that jansan manufacturers, distributors, and cleaning contractors have employed, such as advertising in different publications both in print and online, content marketing is designed to complement or supplement these efforts. And for some companies, it may prove to be a marketing powerhouse.
Today and historically, most businesspeople have relied on outbound marketing initiatives—reaching out to customers—to gain interest in their company and its products. Content marketing is an inbound tactic, driving customers (and here we also mean end-customers) back to you. It accomplishes this by using the world’s most powerful marketing tool ever invented, the Internet. Around the world, we have all become search- and research-obsessed consumers. Content marketing is the ideal tactic in this new world marketing environment.
What Exactly Is Content Marketing?
We all know what content is. It refers to information. Content marketing takes this a step further. It involves providing new, fresh, quality and pertinent information that is of value to your customers and potential customers.
The use of the word marketing in the name is a bit misleading. A better word to use would be tactic. So content marketing can be defined as follows:
A marketing program based on the sharing of quality, credible, and pertinent information that generates traffic to your Web site, and along with it, interest in your company and its products. It typically involves creating a separate, online publication.
Not only can it be helpful when introducing new customers to your Web site, your company, and your products, but as referenced earlier, it can be very effectively used with existing customers as well. Customers like to have a connection with the companies they buy from, whether directly or indirectly through a distributor. Content marketing helps build trust and loyalty, which ultimately leads to customers purchasing more merchandise over time.
But the most powerful attribute of content marketing—if it is performed on a consistent basis—is that it makes your company “findable.” If you do not know already, Google and other search engines have been adjusting their algorithms as to how they find information for their users. Instead of just looking for keywords such as “cleaning,” “auto scrubber,” or “vacuum cleaner” to connect a visitor with whom or what they are searching for, search engines now are looking for quality content that discusses those terms.
Consistency is also important. As part of the new algorithms, the more consistently and frequently new information is posted, the higher the search engine ranking. This means that if you have posted an article or two, or a blog comment, on your site in the past few months—that is certainly not enough. New, quality information, posted once per month or more often, is necessary for the search engine spiders to perk up and consider your site worthy of inclusion in their search results.
Type of Content
Earlier we defined content as quality, credible information. We should be clear here: this is not advertising information or an advertorial. While it can and should subtly sell your company and its products and services, it is primarily relevant, valuable, and credible content that Web visitors can use to improve their businesses, run their facilities more efficiently, protect health, or otherwise help them in their lives and businesses. The Web visitor first learns from the quality content and then connects you, your company, and your products with this valuable information.
While the content should not be an advertisement, it should be closely tied to the types of products or services you sell or manufacture. For instance, if your company specializes in manufacturing automatic scrubbers, educational articles on how to use these machines on different floor types, as well as information on floor care in general, will likely prove quite valuable to visitors interested in this information.
Once you are clear on what type of content you want to develop, the next consideration is where to post it. The first place can be your company Web site. Other channels might include social media sites such as Facebook, YouTube, your blog, or LinkedIn. Wherever it is posted, make sure there is an “about the author” section at the end of the article that points to you and your firm.
However, some companies are taking this a big step further. They are actually creating their own online publications. Just like traditional publications, these e-zines offer large amounts of educational information of value to their customers. In the process, along with subtly promoting the companies that run them, these online publications are helping to brand the companies and their products and helping them differentiate themselves from their competitors.
How much does all of this cost? While content marketing will typically not be as expensive as other marketing strategies, it is not free. It requires time and effort and of course actually creating the information to be published online. Often this can be handled in-house as one of the duties of your marketing department. However, many companies, large and small, have turned this over to PR/communications firms that are skilled in content marketing and how to make it most effective.