This article was published in ISSA Today
Content marketing and marketing content creation is getting a lot of buzz in the public relations, marketing, and 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 involved with it directly.
While content marketing is unlikely to replace traditional marketing efforts that jansan manufacturers, distributors, and cleaning contractors have employed, such as advertising in print and online publications, this tactic is designed to complement or supplement these efforts. And for some companies, it may prove to be a marketing powerhouse.
Historically, most businesses 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 in that it drives customers back to your business. 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 your customers and potential customers value.
The use of the word “marketing” in the name is a bit misleading, however. A better word to use would be “tactic.” So, content marketing can be defined as the following: A marketing tactic 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, and does this all for free for the Web visitor.
Not only can content marketing be helpful when introducing new customers to your Web site, your company, and your products, but as referenced earlier, it can be used effectively 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 goods and services over time.
But the most powerful attribute of content marketing—if it is performed on a consistent basis—is that it makes your company easier to find on the Web. Google and other search engines have been adjusting their algorithms for how they find information on the Web for their users. Instead of just looking for keywords such as “cleaning” or “vacuum cleaner” to connect a visitor with 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 to a Web site, the higher the search engine ranking that site has. 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. The bottom line is that 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.
Types of Content
Earlier, I defined content as quality, credible information. To be clear, 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 to be 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, or LinkedIn. Wherever it is posted, make sure there is an “about the author” section at the end of the article that points to the reader 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 online magazines and newsletters offer a large amount of educational information of value to their clients. In the process, along with subtly promoting the companies that run them, these online publications help brand the companies and their products and help to differentiate them 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, 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 public relations or communications firms that are skilled in content marketing and how to make it most effective.