What is content marketing and should I be doing it?

Content marketing in its basic form is creating and sharing online material; it is generally non-promotional but sparks an interest in the reader about products and services. Content marketing could be in the form of social media posts, videos or blogs.

The key to content marketing is to provide relevant and valuable information. Many get this wrong and try to use this as a selling platform. To successfully create content, you have to understand the problems faced by your readers, in order to offer them a solution or an idea that retains interest.

Do not think about content marketing as a direct response platform, or a quick win. It takes strategy, a time commitment and a means of disseminating to the appropriate audience. This approach shows that you are relevant, valuable and an authority on the products or services that you offer and should result in positive sentiment towards your brand and a long-term increase in sales revenue.

I would advise you create a dedicated content schedule; if you share content sporadically your readers are likely to miss it, however, if they come to rely on your content to fill a time slot in their week, they’ll look out for it and are more likely to share it with their friends and like-minded individuals, all with the potential to become one of your customers.

What should you create content on?

This all depends on your business and the services you offer. If you have customers then you just need to think back to the questions that you get asked. A close friend of mine works in the fitness industry and when people find this out, they immediately ask him how they can get a slimmer stomach, he has the same answer for all of them ‘you can’t target areas to burn fat’, so there is his first idea for content. If your business offers swimming pool supplies then you could create content on tried and tested pool cleaning techniques. You need to find something that your customers want to know about. JeMarketing offers marketing services so we create content about all things marketing. 

I don’t have the time to create content

Content marketing does take a time commitment; there are ways around finding the time yourself. You could hire a freelance copywriter to do this for you. A quick search online will give you the details of companies who you can outsource your copywriting. There are also freelance project boards like UpWork, Freelancer and People per Hour, these allow you to search for freelancers that offer certain services or post a job that freelancers will pitch to you for.

User Generated Content

Social media is full of what is known as user-generated content, I’m sure as you scroll through Facebook you will see that one of your contacts has tagged themselves as in a restaurant and taken a picture of their food. The restaurant can then approach this person and ask to use their picture in marketing materials. You could also ask your customers to create something for you in return for entry into a prize draw (prize draw terms and conditions must be available publicly). So many companies do this, Walkers Crisps had a face on their packets and they asked users to take a selfie using the face on the bag, the photos taken have been used on their social media, TV ads and celebrities are taking photos to share with their vast amount of followers. All of this is free promotion of a brand. Make sure if you want to use content generated by your users, get their permission, a simple marketing consent agreement will do!

Crowdsourced content

This is content that has been contributed to by many people or companies. By crowdsourcing your content, you should save time, you aren’t doing all the writing, you ask others to contribute to your content, remember that everyone has their own writing style, this is as unique to them as their voice, they may not write in the same way as you and you need to be sensitive to this.

All of your contributors are likely to share this piece of content with their networks; this improves your reach and voice to potential customers. You could even ask your customers to contribute to your content, in a simple review of a product or provide a quote for use in your marketing materials.

Because of the mix of people involved in this content creation, make sure that you have it thoroughly proofread, and remember to credit everyone involved in the creation when it is published to avoid any bad feeling or potential legal issues.

How do I get my content marketing to my audience?

First things first, find the right place to host it. Do you have a website? If so, post your content in a blog area. If not, there are areas on social media that you can post content. LinkedIn allows you to publish content through their publishing area. To know where to post your content, you need to know where your audience spends their time, take a look at The fundamentals of marketing strategy for small businesses for guidance on understanding your customers. 

The pros and cons of content marketing

Pros

  • Increased loyalty of your customers – they’ll want to know what you have to say next and see you as an authority on your product or service
  • SEO benefits – search engines love sites that are updated regularly, with relevant content, this should help push you up the page ranks and increase your brand presence
  • Emotion – users who are engaged with your content will have an emotional response to your content, this enables brand recognition and recall. We remember things that made us feel something
  • New customers – you will attract new customers who will see you as an authority on your product or service, this should, in turn, reduce any consideration periods that your customers enter into before converting as they trust and value your expertise

 

Cons

  • Time commitment and resources – creating content isn’t easy, content marketing will take up a lot of your time, if you opt to outsource the copywriting to someone then you need to think about the time you will spend briefing them, the cost involved, and time for you to proofread and check you are happy with it
  • Cost – content marketing isn’t free, even if you have a team of marketers that can help you with this, you will need to take them away from other tasks to come up with strategies, schedules, copy and dissemination plans
  • Slow to convert – this, as mentioned above, does not deliver a quick win, but it will deliver quality and loyal customers in the long term

 

In conclusion, the choice is really yours, if copywriting comes naturally to you then content marketing is a no-brainer, even if it does take a bit of extra work, then it may still be worth it.

It can’t hurt to try for a few weeks, be sure to track your success and if possible, attribute sales to this effort. If this is not possible with your current tracking set up then take a look at your sales figures for the same period last year and the month before you started content marketing.