Delivered in a range of ways, content marketing appears as articles, blogs, ebooks, news, video, white papers, infographics, Q&As, case studies, ‘how-to’ guides and so on. The main focus for content marketing is not the hard sell; its function is to consistently communicate valuable information to engage current and attract new ‘buyers’. And by ‘buyers’ I mean people who you need to either buy, buy into, comment upon, support or participate in what you are offering.
Intangible, yet imperative for brand perception, profile and customer loyalty, good word of mouth and a strong reputation, brands live or die by trust – good content marketing can also go a long way to repairing trust if it’s damaged. The two main contributing factors to the success of any content marketing are value and consistency.
Your content marketing will be doing its job when it inspires interest, loyalty and underlines you and your brand’s reputation, all of which builds trust. Content marketing is not new it has been successfully used for years. In 1895 The Furrow was launched by US agricultural machine manufacturers John Deere. A magazine for farmers on how to become more profitable, it’s reckoned to be the first ‘customer publication’ and it is still going strong today read in 27 countries and in 14 languages on and offline. Another early content marketing hero is the Michelin Guide, developed by Michelin in 1900 to give car drivers information and tips on maintenance and travel.
Content marketing is, however, no quick fix – do you know of a sustainable and authentic marketing technique that is? The key is to take your eye off the margins and focus firmly on your buyer: their needs, their lives, their issues; what matters to them will interest them; what interests them has the potential to help them; what helps them they will buy. Today, alongside traditional marketing and publishing, social media has made the sharing of content within reach of every business and there is a seemingly overwhelming wealth of platforms to choose from. Knowing your customer – who they are, how and where they like to learn about stuff – is the starting point to decide which platforms are right for your business. When you have identified your platforms just remember: if what you are saying offers no value to your customer – gives no insight, interest or help, it will be ignored.
If what you say is inconsistent in its quality, tone and/or how often it appears it can create frustration and be mistrusted. This mistrust will all act upon your brand and your investment in content marketing will at best be lost, at worst create a bad impression. So, it pays to do your research, plan your strategy and stick to it, then enjoy the fruits of your labours.