Over the next weeks, possibly months, I am going to pen a series of articles about content marketing and its constituent topics. Content marketing is very important for small businesses because it leverages two things that they have, their knowledge and brain power, and not much of the one thing they often don’t have a lot of, namely money.
What is content marketing?
For me, content marketing is about generating content that adds to the value people perceive in you outside of the use of your service or product.
For a business to business operator, this means demonstrating your expertise by giving some of it away to prove your value to people who might become your customers.
For a consumer-facing organisation, it is a little more complex, but you are still extending the value customers receive from you. For example, a company that sells hiking boots might have adventure-based content showing the experiences of those who use the product, whether they be employees of the company or customers themselves.
Before Al Gore invented the Internet…
In the old days, companies would place their advertisements in media that matched the subject (ever wondered why Canon advertises in photography magazines?) or their target demographics by income, region, and so on.
As someone who used to sell advertising, in the days of paper index cards, I remember making phone calls that went something like; “Mr. X, we are running a feature on gas-powered widgets. As you make a gas-powered widget, you should really think about advertising against it.” Should I have convinced him, Mr. X might well have bought an ad only to find out that we reviewed his gas-powered widget and thought it was rubbish.
Mr. X would invariably be displeased.
Mr. X might then have decided that he wanted to write the story himself. But when he tried to do that it would have this big label, “ADVERTORIAL”, stamped over it and no one would bother to read it.
This has all has changed now.
Be your own publisher
The internet, coupled with some excellent software like WordPress, has made everyone a publisher. Now you can publish content that adds value to your product or service, and the use and experience of that product or service.
When you are your own publisher, you control the story. It’s on your turf, not a third party’s website.
With your own content you can prove your expertise, or excite the consumer with the possibilities for your product.
This does not mean you whitewash, consumers are pretty smart, but done with care, and good intent, generating your own content can considerably extend the perception of value that customers place on you and what you have to offer.
Good content can extend your brand, but it is not brand messaging. It is about building trust and faith. After all, a brand is simply the acceptance by the consumer of the value you claim to offer. Content enables you to extend that experience your brand has to offer.
In coming weeks I will discuss the different types of content, the means to publish it, how to share it and integrate it with social media, and how to tap the knowledge within yourself and your company to generate it.