This post was originally posted in The Daily Herald here.
If you have heard the term content marketing, you may have wondered what it is and what impact it has on your business. Buzzwords come and go, but this one has gained ground, substance, and credibility over the past few years.
The formal definition
Content Marketing Institute Founder Joe Pulizzi defines content marketing as:
“… the marketing and business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience — with the objective of driving profitable customer action.“
What is content — literally?
Content is defined as important content created in a variety of formats that’s closely targeted to your clients and prospects’ objectives, needs, and pain points.
In a recent survey by Ascend2, a market research firm, outlined the most effective forms of content as compared to the most difficult to create.
From experience, our team agrees that case studies are the most useful form of content. They focus in on a relatable problem and proactively communicate solutions and results. People are constantly searching for ways to solve industry-related problems. Case studies help others identify with similar pain points and develop solutions by learning from another company’s proven results.
To develop case studies, our team carefully selects stories that do the following:
- Solve a complex problem
- Highlight key value propositions
- Overcome a perceived objection
- Showcase a relatively unknown product, service or industry you serve
Let’s keep it short
A common misconception is that case studies have to be long — it’s quite the contrary. In today’s world, with 90,000+ pieces of online content being produced each day, it leaves majority of us short on time and with low attention spans. Fortunately, Twitter proves to us that content can be communicated in less than 140 characters! Case studies need to be concise and to the point: challenge, solution, and result.
Other forms of media that are highly effective for disseminating information quickly are videos and infographics. These two tactics require thoughtful planning to identify the key points you want to communicate.
Video allows for the opportunity to showcase your personality. Be sure to demonstrate the “flava” of your company and make it appealing to your target audience! More than the traditional corporate video, we are leveraging to showcase machines in action for manufacturing, to share tips and tricks, even to promote recruitment. The key is to keep it under three minutes. The added bonus of video is that most are housed on a YouTube channel for your business and generate organic link juice back to your site, and as a result, increases your search engine rankings!
Infographics are also an outstanding visual to demonstrate a concept simply. It is highly effective to define a complex service, communicate steps of a process, or outline progress. Infographics can find many homes in marketing materials, sales presentations, and websites.
Webinars and Podcast: Cooler than ever
Gaining ground in the content world are webinars and podcasts!
Webinars allow you to invite clients and prospects to join you as you step through content that is relevant to your marketplace. You can reach a large amount of people, position yourself as an expert in your industry, collect data based on the types of questions asked, and ultimately increase lead generation. In a recent webinar on 3D printing our client, Bi-Link, was getting web inquires during the webinar! The webinar now is recorded and saved on their YouTube channel, available on their website, emailed to the clients that missed it, and shared on both LinkedIn and Twitter!
Podcasting may be new to you, but it is over a decade old evolving soon after the first iPod came out. New York Magazine and Forbes have recently written about the “Great Podcast Renaissance.” Fueling this renewed interest is smartphones, internet connectivity in cars, and the appetite for content! It will gain ground as quickly as search engine marketing did essentially operating off of the same premise — key words or more accurately specific interest. What I mean by that is niche podcasts such as MakingChips, a local manufacturing podcast with national exposure. MakingChips launched at the end of 2014 and ranked six consecutive weeks on iTunes New & Noteworthy.
All these forms of content can be leveraged and shared in multiple communication channels. To get started, below are simple steps to take:
- Know your buyer types
- Check for level of relevancy
- House content on your website and/or blog
- Share via all your marketing channels, social, email, direct mail, search engine, and even press
What is the impact on my business?
The importance of a content marketing effort is that your target audience sees valuable information shared in a variety of places: email, LinkedIn, on your Website, in a presentation, on Twitter etc.
A critical factor to be aware of is that Google “grades” your website in determining your ranking by the frequency and quality of your content. Always choose quality over quantity.
Bottom line is know your target audience and serve up information that is going to educate them and perceive you as the expert they want to work with. What does content marketing mean in your business? Comment below!