Content marketing has become a bit of a hot topic in marketing circles recently. But it is not a new phenomenon. Marketers have been employing content marketing for as long as the human species has been conducting business.
Content marketing is essentially the creation of a narrative that generates interest in a business, drives leads and ultimately helps increase sales. From the earliest days of commerce, traders have been marketing their services and wares with tales and testimonials, helping them to position their brand and win more sales. At its most extravagant, this narrative could take the form of a piece of entertainment or spectacle such as the recent Red Bull Stratos freefall parachute jump from the edge of space. But it is more commonly found in the perhaps more cost-effective (and some would say more useful) educational and informative pieces published by many organizations in the form of blog posts, white papers (like the one you are currently reading) and infographics.
The best content marketing helps solve problems for your clients and potential clients, helps humanize your business (people buy from people they like) and is shared widely beyond the reach of your own networks.
Why the Sudden Surge in Popularity?
There are many reasons why content marketing has risen to prominence in recent years. These include (but are certainly not limited to) the following:
- Rising Marketing Costs: Paying to acquire new customers via a range of marketing methods can be an expensive business. Returns from traditional marketing techniques such as print, television and radio have suffered at the hands of digital media. On the flip side, the increased demand on online marketing has forced costs up. Finding the correct balance and ensuring margins are maintained and profits achieved is becoming increasingly difficult.
- Advances in Search: The (often shrouded in mystery) world of search engine optimization (SEO) is in a state of flux. Search engines are becoming increasingly successful in separating quality results from the vast quantities of spam the SEO industry has previously thrown at them. The days of dudes in black hats riding to your rescue and getting your website to the top of the major search engines by dubious means are over. Getting to the top is now all about relevancy, quality, reputation and frequency, and the only way to do this is by generating great content.
- Social Media: Although social media can’t provide the foundation or structure of your content marketing strategy it is a vital component in terms of distribution. Social media allows savvy organizations to distribute a wide variety of content to an engaged audience at very little (or even zero) cost. It also provides a mechanism for your community to share your content widely and add their voices to your campaigns. Word-of-mouth marketing has never been so efficient.
- An Educated Audience: As people have wider access to information via the Internet they are able to make more-informed choices when making buying decisions. The more you are able to share with your audience, the more likely they are to buy from you. Great content also provides an excellent method of prequalifying your audience before you engage them in the sales cycle.
- Seamless Integration: Content marketing fits in snugly with absolutely everything else you do, online and offline. Email, social media marketing and online PR complement content marketing perfectly. Content marketing is also a vital component in the real world, providing a great building point for conferences and events, training and even sales pitches.
How are you using content marketing to build a better business? Share your comments in the box below.