“Content is king”
You’ve probably heard this phrase before. Heck, you’ve probably heard it so many times that you’re probably sick of hearing it. But, no matter how cliché it gets, it never loses its truth. Despite all the new technologies, or new terms (unpopular opinion: inbound/outbound marketing are just buzzwords for marketing), content will always be at the top of the hill.
But even with its importance, a number of marketing firms have forgotten this. The past decade saw content marketing as a strategy used only by the most “radical” marketing companies out there, and it’s only in recent years that marketers are seeing the importance of content, and its prime place in every marketing strategy.
Today, more and more marketers are using insightful, relevant, and of course entertaining content that adds value to the brand rather than just screaming “buy me!” at consumers. And wouldn’t you know it, it caught on, and no agency in the world would exist without a strong content marketing plan.
Value-adding content marketing is now the cornerstone of every major brand, from General Electric and Samsung, to Coca-Cola and Taco Bell. Every one of these major brands deploy marketing collaterals that are designed to connect with their (well-defined) audience on a human level. In fact, across the pond, a whopping 86% of British companies rely heavily on content marketing for their strategies.
So with all this information, the question is: does your organization use content marketing?
Do you know what Content Marketing is? I’m not trying to be condescending, I just want to make sure that you and I are speaking the same language, so to speak!
So just to be safe, here’s what I mean when I say Content Marketing, and it’s from the Content Marketing Institute’s dictionary:
“Content marketing is 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.”
Let’s break that definition down in layman’s terms: Content marketing is basically any marketing effort that focuses on creating collaterals that are important to your audience. This is the exact opposite of traditional advertising, wherein the goal is to convince people that they want a specific brand even if that person doesn’t want it.
You may have seen me use the term “well-defined audience” in this article. This is an important term because content marketing works at its peak when its deployed towards a well-defined audience. A well-defined audience simply means that you have a very clear understanding of your customers wants and needs, as well as their psycho-socio-economic background. Why is this important? Well, if you understand what your customer wants, why he wants it, and what some of his life values are, then you can provide content that is free, informative, and attractive. In this way, not only do you add value to your customer’s life, you also make them want to engage with your brand in a genuine manner.
In a digital world, it’s not difficult to create genuine interest in your brand thanks to various technologies like blogs, infographics, podcasts, email campaigns, and of course, social media. But regardless of what tech you use, the purpose of your content has to remain the same: provide your customer with marketing that they like, that they’re interested in, that they can use. This is what content marketing is all about, creating human connections and encouraging genuine engagement between brand and customer.
Great Content Inspires Genuine Affinity
Whether it’s dealing with customers directly or dealing with businesses, engaging content is key to creating a working relationship built on trust and mutual respect, especially if your content is well-researched and adds value to your customer/the business’ life.
Your brand’s popular image starts in the minds of your readers, and they start forming that image when they encounter your content. Naturally, if your content is engaging, addresses their issues, and is entertaining, what kind of image do you think they’ll have of your business?
The more value your content offers to your customers, the more they trust you to deliver on it. The more they trust you, the more willing they are to support your brand and recommend it to others. After all, everyone wants to be the source of a good referral!
Building trust and affinity between your brand and your customer base requires that you put them first; thanks to the internet, customer-centric business models have completely replaced the brand-centric advertising we used to have. This means that direct self-promotion is not only frowned upon, it generally makes customers uneasy.
In the modern world, customers have realized that brands don’t have power if they don’t engage with it. Thus, if a brand doesn’t offer them anything beyond “our brand is great because we said so!”, then kiss your product/service/offering goodbye. You need content that says, “our brand gives your life value because…”. Once you can do that, then you can entice customers to engage with you on a regular basis.
Great Content Makes You Visible
With marketing agencies battling each other for page one rankings, great content is your best bet at being on top, or even just ranking at all. In fact, without a content marketing strategy, you may as well not have a website.
Websites are a brand’s online shop front or calling card. A website that doesn’t have good content or doesn’t rank is like having a store in an alleyway with no signs and with no labels on the products. Sound like something YOU would want to visit? I didn’t think so.
Aside from giving customers value, content is important in search engine optimization, or SEO. Tweaking a brand’s SEO is how marketing agencies ensure that a website remains visible using keywords, backlinks, and other technical factors.
Keywords are one of the most important: these are the words and phrases that users type down when they’re searching for something. A proper content marketing strategy will ensure that your website has the right density of keywords while maintaining readability and enjoyability. Backlinks, on the other hand, are links from other websites that direct readers to your website. This is important because it tells search engines that you’re a trustworthy and reliable website, thus getting you high up in page rankings.
In short, engaging and entertaining content is necessary for the success of a brand online, but it still needs to be done right. A proper content strategy involves high-quality content and the technical know-how and prowess to deploy it online.
Kings Never Die
But the best part of all? Great content is cost-effective, not to mention evergreen. High-quality, customer-centric content will never go out of style, and it constantly generates visibility and awareness for any brand.
Soit’s up to you: do you want to rely on that old “buy me! Buy me!” advertising model, despite it being old-fashioned, ineffective, and frankly, kitsch? Or, do you want to go with something that’s tried, tested, and creates a genuine relationship between you and your customers?
Choice is yours!