Years ago, the emergence of the Internet and subsequent invention of social media caused marketing to detour from solely traditional formats (like print ads, billboards and brochures) and head towards digital formats. This transition did not occur overnight, but today the vast majority of businesses, big and small, readily admit they need an online presence to reach potential customers. As a result, most have either a website or social media page or both.
Now, marketers are faced with another challenge: overcoming the indifference shown by consumers who have grown accustomed to ads on TV, radio, magazines, websites, highways, ball fields, programs, buses, and so on. With satellite radio and DVRs, those who aren’t simply tuning out the advertising noise are avoiding the ads altogether.
The majority of people worldwide wouldn't care if 73% of brands disappeared tomorrow.
For business owners trying to grow their brand identities, that is scary.
Through digital marketing, the marketplace has grown exponentially. Consumers can now buy from coast to coast and have their items in a day. So how do businesses that want to take advantage of this enormous playing field battle consumer indifference and the growing trend of customer disloyalty?
Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action, according to the Content Marketing Institute.
Simply put, it’s consistently publishing useful information to build trust with your audience, prompt them to engage with your brand, and turn them into customers.
Consumers today seek to do business with brands that provide them with valuable information and help them make difficult purchase decisions. If consumers feel that you are truly trying to make them more knowledgeable and not simply sell them something, they begin to listen to you; they value your input and they trust your brand.
That trust leads to the ultimate goal of content marketing: to be perceived as an expert in your field.
How does content marketing differ from traditional advertising messages?
Traditional advertising tactics are still effective — when the message is right. Traditionally, though, those messages have involved “yelling” at consumers. In some cases with radio and TV, the yelling is literal. They seek to grab a prospect’s attention and make some sort of impression in a matter of seconds.
Content marketing, on the other hand, takes time. Studies have shown that potential customers need to be exposed to your product between seven and 20 times for you to convert a sale. Providing consumers with valuable information on a regular basis keeps your name in front of them while building credibility. It is marketing on a higher level. Rather than yell, content marketers want to have a conversation; to communicate without selling.
How does one go about content marketing?
First of all, you need a strategic plan. Content marketing is still marketing, which to be effective requires a clear-cut, written plan of action for reaching your target audience and evaluating any resulting success. The whole point of marketing is to engage a potential customer and random posts about random information will not get the job done.
Define who you’re trying to engage, what message you want to send them and the best tactics and timeline for delivering that message. Ways in which you can deliver the message might be web content, blogs, articles linked via social media, newsletters (both print and electronic), email blasts, or even helpful information in traditional advertising formats. Content marketing is about delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent.
Aside from building trust and credibility, there are other benefits associated with content marketing. The consistent publication of high-quality informative content increases brand awareness because readers feel the need to share it. It also helps with recruitment, keeps your leaders sharp, fuels your other marketing channels and lends credibility to your sales team.
The most encouraging part of this concept is that according to the aforementioned Havas Media study, 54% of consumers don’t trust brands. So, from a glass half full perspective, over half of consumers are waiting to be won over. They’re looking for credible brands they can trust — and content marketing can save the day.