In the late 1990s, a building service contractor had his first experience with content marketing. He began pitching two books he had written on the professional cleaning industry. Once the books were written, he discovered – as he had anticipated – that no publisher was interested in publishing the books.
Left with few alternatives, he self-published the books and then decided to start promoting himself on a still relatively new medium: The Internet.
At that time, AOL (America Online) and some of the trade publications in the professional cleaning industry had what was then called message boards. In many ways, they were the first forms of social media. People would exchange views, ask and answer questions, and converse with one another.
This fledgling author used the message boards not to advertise the books or promote himself but to answer as many questions as possible about the industry he had been a part of for more than 25 years.
And the questions flooded in. Because he had lived this industry for so many years, the author had firsthand experience dealing with many of the questions that came up and was able to answer them with considerable detail and as carefully and conscientiously as possible.
What happened next was truly unexpected.
First, the books began to sell and sell well. Then an Internet start-up asked him to add content to their website, a site that focused on the professional cleaning industry. After meeting with the author, they offered him a job and moved him to New York, where they were based. Two years later, another new door of opportunity opened. This time ISSA, the worldwide cleaning association, offered him a job in Chicago.
This chain of events started not with the author advertising himself or his books but with him being consistent, persistent, and as helpful on those message boards as possible. He developed a motto that he repeated to himself repeatedly: to “give, give, give,” assuming that in time, it would pay off, which it did.
What this gentleman was doing is called content marketing. And the reason I know so much about him is that the gentleman is me.
The key benefits of content marketing are that it demonstrates your capabilities, turns you and your brand into an expert and thought leader, builds trust, and trust leads to sales. It works whether you are an individual or a company.
Over the years, I have worked with many manufacturers and other organizations, helping them become experts in their fields. In so doing, I have also been able to promote the value of their products and services.
But does content marketing still work?
This is a question that comes up regularly, especially now that there are so many different social media platforms that are more dependent on videos than words. The answer is yes, particularly if you are in the B2B world. It still works. And the stats and studies provided by LinkedIn and Edelman PR have proven this.
A quick look at the home page of this website includes supporting evidence from LinkedIn, Edelman, and Forbes Magazine.
Content marketing, however, is ever evolving. It still involves words, which have proven to be the most effective form of content marketing. But also, it now includes educational videos, images, webinars, and podcasts.
And why it works is simple. Content marketing is designed 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 and your brand 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