"Content Marketing": What is it and what does it look like?
When you get right down to it, its exactly what it sounds like - creating content to sell or market your business. That's straightforward enough, right?
But how do you do it in the real world and why does it matter?
Content marketing in the real world
In the real world, your customers are looking for your goods or services. When they get to your website, you want to connect with them so they know what you do and they want to pick up the phone and call you. The words and images you use to convey that message is "content".
To create good content it's important to create content with your customer in mind. Put yourself in their shoes; they are likely doing research and may be thinking that your goods or services will fill a need they have. You're sales calls probably address the same seven questions regardless of who you're speaking to. Does your text address those questions? Do you have a great video that demonstrates your cool, new product in an engaging way? Is your message clear and concise?
Sometimes, however, people in the real world are doing research but aren't ready to spend the time, money or energy to deal with their need. Do you give them a simple way to stay in touch with you? Do you fulfill your promise, explicit or otherwise, of staying in touch with them?
That's what content marketing is REALLY about; providing value and information for your readers regardless of where they are in the buying cycle.
Why is it important?
Content marketing is important for two reasons; it helps people find your website (SEO) and encourages people to do business with you (conversion). That's it. If If you have great content that no one is reading, you're wasting your time. If you have lots of people finding your website but your phone isn't ringing, you're likely wasting both time and money.
SEO is, of course, search engine optimization. Its the practice of "optimizing" your pages for the search engines meaning you are giving the search engines lots of cues about the content on that page. This way when someone is doing a search, the search engines will know when to serve up your pages.
You don't want to focus only on the search engines however because eventually humans will land on the page and if you are only focusing on making the page desirable for search engines, it may end up being UNdesirable for your human readers. If that's the case they are unlikely to turn into paying customers; they won't "convert."
What does content marketing look like?
There are lots of different ways to implement good, creative content marketing. The most important thing is to be genuine. I came across the following slide show with 100 examples of great content marketing campaigns a while back and its still worth checking out. Not everything will work for your organization, but hopefully, you'll find some inspiration!