Content Marketing: The Basics

When it comes to promoting their services and their brands, too many organizations prioritize sales over everything else. Sure closing deals is the ultimate goal of any company—after all, without sales a firm can’t continue to function, much less turn a profit. But today’s sales can’t sustain a company forever. That’s why instead of focusing on short-term gains, an organization should instead work on developing long-term plans to make tomorrow’s sales, too, to ensure that it’s successful (and still around) in the future.

These plans should include plenty of marketing, of course. In those efforts, companies can get the most bang for their buck not by investing in Facebook clicks, taking out paid print ads, or contacting their mailing list subscribers about “special offers,” but by putting much of their effort and resources into one area: content marketing.

But what is content marketing? If you’ve found this blog through the Mamu Media website, then you probably already have a good sense of what content marketing is (because content marketing is what we do). But if you happened to stumble across this post out of the blue, here’s a quick primer to bring you up to speed.

Content marketing is a way to give your readers (which includes both current customers and prospects) content that is valuable to them. It’s a way to show them that you deserve their business—and that you don’t want just one-time sales but instead want to build long-term relationships with them.

For content to be effective, though, it must follow certain guidelines. First, it is definitely not a sales pitch. Anyone can say “Buy my widget, because it’s the best on the market!” or “Hire us for this job, because we offer the lowest prices” (or something along those lines). Contrary to a sales pitch, the goal of content marketing is to meet a customer’s needs.

Consider this question: “Aside from my actual services and products, what can I give my clients that is valuable to them?” The answer to that question varies, but for most companies it is “information.”

What useful information are you well-positioned to offer your clients? Obviously, this includes personal expertise in an area. For example, if your firm specializes in supporting beekeeping hobbyists, your content market will likely include information about beekeeping techniques, the latest developments in beekeeping technology, and similar topics.

But you can also share knowledge that’s outside the specific area of beekeeping but covers other topics that are relevant to your audience. For example, beekeepers might be interested in learning about mead production (mead is made from honey), developing a backyard fruit orchard (bees pollinate those trees), raising chickens (backyard chickens, farmers, and beekeepers share a DIY approach), selling their products at local farmers’ markets, etc.

Your audience might not know much (or even anything) about beekeeping. And it’s even more likely that they won’t know about areas that are tangentially related to beekeeping. But because you know about these things, you can bring this knowledge to them—and simultaneously increase your value to them.

Next, find a way to share that content. Content marketing can take many forms, such as print magazines and videos. Find the one that suits your company’s needs (including your budget), and figure out how to use it to craft a message that’s accessible for your audience. In this day of information overload, it’s critical to find a medium that can attract—and hold—your targets’ attention.

With that in mind, don’t give your presentation short shrift! A poorly designed magazine that’s riddled with typos, amateurish graphics, and lackluster text, for example, won’t engage readers. In fact, it might actually drive them away! To show your audience that you have something important to say and that it’s worth their time to pay attention to you, use well-produced writing and images to communicate clearly.

Lastly, deliver your content as promised. If you want your audience to respect what you have to say, then you must respect their interest in you. When your content-marketing publications consistently fail to reach their audiences according to your promised schedule, you lose credibility. And when your reputation is damaged enough by this, no one will pay attention to what you have to say—much less want to do business with you.

Long gone are the days when companies could expect simple marketing approaches to succeed on their own. Today’s customers want more. Savvy organizations have realized that they need to transcend the traditional “you give us money, we’ll give you a certain product or service” relationship. Through content marketing, companies can add more to what they sell—and increase their own value to their customers.

Photo by Oleg Laptev on Unsplash

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