Despite all the chatter, content marketing can be a hard sell because many people aren’t sure what it really is, much less what its benefits are. The former we can solve right here, right now: Content marketing is the creation of high-quality content with a marketing agenda.
If you’ve spent any time researching how to market your business online (and we hope you have), you’ve come across the term “content marketing.” Maybe you’ve even been advised to start a blog for your business. Did you take that advice seriously, or did you scoff? Let’s face it, you probably scoffed. And why wouldn’t you? Maintaining a blog requires investing substantial time and effort in content creation and promotion. Why invest resources in promoting a blog rather than, say, your actual product or service?
Content marketing is a slow burn strategy. It’s not immediately rewarding. The return on investment may take time, and it may only be a trickle at first. But content marketing does something that no pay-per-click campaign will ever achieve. It builds your brand and creates authentic, lasting relationships with customers that will feed the growth and longevity of your business. How? Let’s count the ways.
#1. People don’t like being sold to
We’re bombarded with so much advertising throughout the day that we’ve developed instinctive ad blindness. Commercials go in one ear and out the other, and when we encounter an ad in a magazine or online, our eyes glaze right over it. Content marketing is not advertising. You are not selling anything. You are introducing a new audience to your brand through subjects that convey value. By the time money changes hands, customers don’t feel sold to, they feel like they have discovered and chosen your brand organically based on an informed value judgment. Of course, we know differently, but your secret’s safe with us.
#2. We buy what we know
You know the saying, “We like what we know”? The same goes for buying habits. Perhaps the most important function of content marketing is to establish your brand’s personality and voice. Consistently posting quality content provides repeated opportunities for potential customers to interact with and get to know your brand. The more they enjoy and value those interactions, the more they will come to trust you. The more they trust you, the more likely they will be to buy what you’re selling.
#3. It builds credibility
Potential customers don’t have to make a purchase to find evidence that you’re not just talk—they can see you walking the walk in the content you produce. It’s also a unique opportunity to pre-emptively address resistance or objections before they arise. Worried customers will complain about your high prices? Write a blog post about the dangers of skimping on the particular product or service you offer. They’ll think twice about skipping over to a cheaper competitor without you ever stating, “We’re better and here’s why,” which they would immediately distrust.
#4. It supports traditional marketing
Providing reliable content teaches your audience to look to you as a trusted expert. When you reach out with more traditional sales or advertising initiatives, they’ll be more receptive because they have learned to expect value from your brand. Think of it this way: You’re much more likely to take to heart a product recommendation from someone whose taste you already respect than someone making a sales pitch.
#5. It’s an SEO goldmine
So much has been said of content marketing as an SEO goldmine that you might greet this point with an eye roll and a bored sigh. But we’ll take that risk in order to say it again with an important caveat: Content marketing is a valuable SEO opportunity, but only if SEO is not your first goal. If your content is crammed so full of keywords that it verges on gibberish, you’re not providing any value to your audience and you’re not going to fool the search engines, either. They’re smart enough these days to sniff out SEO bait a mile away. And you’re smarter than that, too.
#6. It doesn’t die
Money spent on pay-per-click, or traditional advertising is a finite investment. Once you exhaust your budget, or run out of brochures, the content is gone and traffic will drop off. With content marketing, the investment is exponential. A blog post exists on your site forever, and with the help of SEO and social media, it can generate traffic indefinitely—often snowballing as more and more people find and share your content. Of course, the first hurdle is creating valuable, engaging content that’s worth sharing. But that’s a post for another day.