More Than What You’re Selling: What is Content Marketing?

Traditionally, marketing was all about promoting the specific products and services that you had to offer. This is important of course: people aren’t going to buy from you unless they think that what you’re selling will solve their problems. But all marketing is directly about you and your business. Content marketing is not a new concept, but it is one that has become especially important in our increasingly digital world. By offering a variety of content that’s relevant to your target audience, you can build customer interest and establish yourself as a thoughtful leader.

What is Content Marketing?

According to the Content Marketing Institute, the term content marketing refers to:

… a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. Elaborating from there, content marketing is a long-term marketing strategy centered around connecting with your target audience by providing relevant and high-quality content on a regular basis. While some advertising focuses on generating interest with one-off content or short-term ad campaigns, content marketing is about the long game, building brand awareness, sales, and customer loyalty by consistently planning, creating, and distributing content.

Why is Content Marketing Important?

Some business owners don’t really understand content marketing: “Why should we be making posts and sharing content that’s not directly about our business?” What they usual missing is that not every interaction with a customer needs to be about buying and selling. The best customers, the one’s who will rave about your business and serv as your biggest cheerleaders, they’re the type who form an attachment to their favorite brand, and that can be difficult if the only communications you’re making are posts promoting discounts or hyping up new products.

So while content marketing might not always directly relate to the specific products and services that you provide, it will still be relevant to your target audience, is that is what’s most important. By posting and sharing content that is interesting and engaging to the audience you’re looking for, you are better to engage with them, offering something valuable before they even buy from you. This helps establish good will, while also demonstrating your knowledge and awareness of topics relevant to your industry and general field of interest.

What Types of Content Marketing Are There?

Content marketing is a broad concept that the encompasses a variety of different marketing methods. Some of the more common forms of content marketing include:

  • Social Media Marketing
  • Blog Marketing
  • PR
  • Video Content
  • Podcast Content
  • Infographics
  • Paid Ad Content

As you can see, content marketing can vary from simply posting and sharing relevant content on social media to creating your own unique content for your various marketing channels. All of these (and many more) offer unique ways to connect with an audience, while also demonstrating your unique area of expertise. Regardless of what tactics you use however, content marketing needs to be a part of your wider marketing strategy.

How Can You Improve Your Content Marketing Strategy?

Remember, while the content that you create might not always be specifically about your business and the services that it provides, it still must address your audience’s needs. This means the content you create or share should be relevant to your target audience, offer some tangible value, and be produced with some level of consistency. All three of these factors are important for offering quality content: providing content doesn’t if does have any value or if isn’t relevant to your potential buyers, and you aren’t posting consistently, people won’t find you or stick around for long.

Additionally, it cannot be overstated how important it is to invest in SEO marketing alongside your content marketing strategy. While some in marketing will debate whether SEO or content marketing is more effective, the truth the two are intricately linked, as search engine optimization strategies will inevitably help with your content marketing efforts by making it easier for customers to find your content in the first place. As such, rather than treat them as separate forms of marketing, they should really be considered two aspects of your online marketing machine.

It’s worth pointing out that content marketing isn’t meant to be a replacement for more traditional marketing techniques. Content marketing works best it’s used to compliment your other marketing efforts, supplementing your other strategies as part of your wider business goals. By implementing content marketing into your overarching marketing strategy, you can create the kind of interest and value that keeps customers engaged, which will ultimately help drive more sales and build stronger customer relationships. 

Mark Buckner
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Mark Buckner is a freelance writer and editor from Hammond, Indiana. A recent graduate of Purdue University Northwest, he has edited two books and written on topics ranging from social media to science fiction film. At this time, he is open to other freelance writing and editing opportunities.

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