What is content marketing?
My favourite definition of content marketing comes from Hubspot:
“Content marketing is the art of communicating with your prospects without having to sell to them. As opposed to advertising your products and services, you’re creating helpful, engaging content that your prospects and customers can enjoy and learn from.”
In short, content marketing focusses on creating content which your target audience will find relevant and useful, not necessarily selling your products and services.
So, think of some of the pain points that your customers may have and then think about how those pain points could be resolved. Your content marketing may take the form of a blog or case study highlighting the way you’ve solved similar issues for other customers, or it could be a how-to video explaining a new technique that would make their workflow more efficient. These pieces of content may or may not directly mention your products or services, but what they will do, if they are relevant and useful, is position your brand as a credible, authoritative resource on the subject.
Why all the fuss?
One of the best-known examples of content marketing is the Michelin Guide. Created in 1900 by 2 brothers who were bicycle tyre manufacturers and wanted to expand into car tyres. At that time there were only around 3,000 cars on the road in France. The brothers created the first Michelin Guide to help answer questions that drivers had eg helping them understand where they could go with their cars, where to buy fuel from and where they could stay overnight if they were planning a longer trip etc.
In 1926 Michelin added restaurant ratings to the Guide. These one-, two- and three-star ratings continue to this day with chefs battling to earn a much-coveted place in the Michelin Guide.
The Michelin Guide is a perfect example of content marketing at its best. The original guide was created to answer questions that drivers and non-car owners had about motoring. By answering those questions, the car owning market started to grow and over time Michelin became not only a well-respected, premium tyre brand but the bible of dining guides too!
There are four key areas to consider when creating a content marketing plan:
- Your Audience
- Understand your audience – their needs, their wants, their pain points
- How can you help them do their jobs better / make their lives easier?
- Your Content
- Create content which answers those audience needs, wants and pain points
- Think about your content goals
- Consider your content formats
- Distribution Channels
- Think about how you will reach your target audience?
- Where do they go to for information? Websites, social media, technical specification sheets etc
- How successful is your content? Results vs Objectives
- What tweaks and changes could you make to improve future content?
Content marketing isn’t new, it’s been around in one form or another for hundreds of years, but the principle remains the same. What information can you provide for your target audience that is relevant and useful to them – which in turn will make them think of your brand next time they are in need of your products and services?
A couple words of warning:
Quality over quantity
When it comes to content your mantra should be ‘quality over quantity’ every single time. Many companies fall into the trap of creating lots of lots of irrelevant content because they feel they should be posting blogs every week, so their audience won’t forget about them. If your content is poor it won’t perform well and could in the long run be detrimental to your brand.
No quick wins
Building a reputation as a respected, authoritative resource takes time. There is no quick and easy win. You need to make sure your content is good quality, useful to your target audience and easy for them to find.
You also need to continually monitor and evaluate the content you’re producing to make sure it meets and ideally exceeds your customer’s expectations.
At Factor 3 we love a content marketing challenge, so please get in touch if you need help with any aspect of content marketing.
This content was originally published here.