I worked as a building service contractor in Northern California in the late 1990s when I first got into content marketing. So, I guess you could say I got to know content marketing “close and personal.”
I had also written two books on the professional cleaning industry at that time. As anticipated, no publisher was interested in publishing them, so I decided to self-publish them and promote myself on the still-new medium called the Internet.
In the late 1990s, AOL and some of the major trade publications in the professional cleaning industry had what were then called message boards. These were early forms of social media where people could exchange views, ask, and answer questions, and converse with one another.
I worked on these message boards, but I didn’t promote myself or the books. Instead, I used those message boards primarily to answer as many questions about the industry as possible. My only promotion is that I would sign off with the name of my books, hoping that would help sell them.
This Was a Form of Content Marketing and it Worked
Because I’d been in that industry for more than 25 years, I had firsthand experience dealing with many of the issues the people on the message boards were asking about. This made it easy for me to provide helpful advice. What happened next was truly unexpected.
First, the books began to sell and sell well. Then an Internet start-up asked me to add content to their website. After a couple of meetings, they offered me a job and moved me to New York where they were based. Two years later, another new door of opportunity opened. This time ISSA, the worldwide cleaning association, asked me to join them and moved me to Chicago.
Advertising the books – or myself, for that matter – had nothing to do with this unexpected chain of events. Instead, the consistent, persistent, and helpful messages I placed on these message boards opened all these doors.
Interestingly, I developed a motto at that time, which I repeated to myself often: “give, give, give,” assuming that in time, it would pay off. It did.
Not realizing it, what I was doing was an early form of content marketing, which has since become one of my specialties working with a variety of clients.
The key benefit of content marketing, which I realized firsthand, is that it helps turn you and your organization into an expert, a thought leader. The process builds trust, and trust leads to sales. In my case, the sales were my books and the steppingstones that unfolded before me.
Well, that was a while ago. So, does content marketing still work?
According to the search engine optimization company SEMrush, it sure does. A survey updated in late 2021 found that:
• Companies that utilize content marketing see thirteen greater returns on their investment.
• Companies with an active content marketing program have 27.1 percent higher sales wins.
• Eighty-seven percent of B2B buyers say content marketing plays a moderate to a significant role in their purchasing decisions.
• Forty-eight percent of B2B C-suite executives said content marketing and thought leadership marketing led them directly to give a company their business.
We must add that content marketing is ever evolving. It still involves words, which have proven to be the most effective form of content marketing. But today, it also involves educational videos, images, webinars, and podcasts.
No matter the format, content marketing works because it is designed primarily to educate.
Consistently publishing blog posts that are educational, engaging, and credible not only builds trust but generates more awareness about your brand, improves traffic to your website, fosters relationships with current customers and potential buyers—and turns you into an authority.
Robert Kravitz is president of AlturaSolutions, Which Provides Content Marketing Strategies for the Professional Cleaning Industry. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org