What Is Content Marketing?

Image of two top hats with rabbits jumping in and out of them

Content marketing is digitally posting information that your customers and potential customers will find interesting and useful.  Content marketing is an extremely cost-effective way of increasing your website relevance and subscribers.  Content marketing can be done for free, counting on organic search results, or it can be paid for, immediately boosting the visibility of your posts by paying to have the content placed in front of people who are searching for similar products and services you offer.  Unlike paid advertising on auction-based services such as Bing, Google and Facebook, organic content marketing costs you nothing and it’s valuable over a lengthy period of time.  Counting on organic search results alone is cheaper, but it’s a longer process with no guarantee of results.  Paying to boost your content will get your messaging out sooner and to a larger audience of your choosing.  Once you’ve paid for a period of time to have people directed to your content, you can stop paying to direct them, but your content will still remain.

Content marketing is a double-edged sword.  If you do content marketing well, you’ll gain subscribers and grow a good reputation.  If you do it poorly, you’ll annoy people and lose subscribers.

There are two ways to connect with your audience

The two ways you connect with your audience are inbound marketing and outbound marketing.  Both are valuable forms of marketing and each of them has a place in your business marketing toolkit.

Inbound Marketing

White Rabbit Jumping Into A Black Top Hat

Inbound Marketing occurs with your customer initiating the contact.  You’ve created a point of contact and your customer is looking for you.  In the digital space, inbound connections occur when you post something that someone else eventually searches for, and that’s how they find you and end up on your website.  The idea of inbound marketing is similar to business signs in shopping malls.  As people walk around shopping, they see signs and go into the businesses that are relevant to their shopping.  They’re mindset is that they’re out shopping expecting to buy something.  They’re looking for you.  Digital inbound marketing is the same idea, but from a digital perspective.  Your “customers” will come across your business by finding you online.  They’re using search engines, and targeting your products and services.  They’ll find you in organic results (free to you) or in paid results (such as Adwords or Facebook Ads).  You’ve opened the door and laid the groundwork for them to find you.  All they have to do is search for information on the products and services you offer.

Inbound marketing is a long-game with recurring long-term advantages.  The advantage of inbound marketing over outbound marketing is that it’s cost effective and can easily be recycled.  The disadvantage of inbound marketing is that it’s a crowded space and the competition is heavy.  It must be executed properly to get results.

Outbound Marketing

Content Marketing White Rabbit Jumping Out Of A Black Top Hat

Outbound marketing gets people who aren’t necessarily searching for you, to become aware of you and your products and services.  You’re initiating the contact.  Connecting with your audience in an “Outbound” manner means you’re posting or advertising something that reaches that audience without them searching for you or your services.  Your message is delivered to them via email, paid marketing outlets such as with Facebook Ads, or the sharing of one of your articles via friends and acquaintances.  Similar methods of outbound marketing in the non-digital space include radio advertising, newspaper flyers and direct-mail advertising.  In those cases, the “customer” is in the car, receiving the paper (not knowing what’s going to there in the flyers), or opening direct mail (not knowing what’s going to be in the envelope).

Quality content marketing starts with keyword research

Content marketing writeups are best when they provide useful information that many people are looking for answers to.  Quality content solves a problem, answers a question, gives valuable advice or provides a novel perspective.  What counts as quality depends on your audience.  If your audience consists of teenage girls who love Justin Bieber, quality information might be revealing what Justin Bieber does in his spare time, who he’s dating or the name of his new release.  If your audience is middle aged homeowners, quality information might be how to prevent flooding in the spring, where to find a good mortgage broker or how to prevent door-to-door salespeople.

Quality information helps people solve problems, reveal an advantage or otherwise pique interest on a topic relevant to them.

Mix Content Marketing With Quality, for Best Results

Put your efforts in posting quality content, not quantity content.  Quality content takes longer to identify, research and compose, but it’s much more useful to your audience than “Content Bombing” them with irrelevant information.  Irrelevant information costs your subscriber time to consume without receiving any benefit out of it.  If you cost your audience time to consume irrelevant or useless information, eventually they’ll see you as a source of spam and stop paying attention to you.  So how do you determine what’s “Quality Content” for you to write about?  Simple!  Find out what your followers want you to write about.  (That’s not a typo).

Where to Get Ideas for Quality Content Marketing

  1. Ask your prospects or clients when you meet with them, before getting down to business, if they have any questions about anything.  Make a list of these questions and over time, you’ll have a list of things people want to know about.
  2. Join social media groups relevant to the products and services you offer and go through the posts.  See the questions people are asking about and post something to your website blog.
  3. Pay attention to current events and write about trending topics.  For example, when Bitcoin started showing up in headlines (and it still is in many respects), people who researched and wrote about it ended up getting a lot of content marketing exposure.
  4. Take part in clubs, associations or events related to your business.  Interesting topics to write about often surface during conversations at these events.

Use Digital Media to Augment Interest

Once you identify, research and compose something to write about, be sure to use engaging digital content to augment interest in the topic.  Use movie clips, imagery, music and other media appropriately which was created specifically for that topic you chose to write about.

Remember your Audience and WIIFM

Last But Most Certainly Not Least – Remember Your Audience!  The best rule of thumb when you write anything is to use the WIIFM principal.  Put yourself in your audiences mind and ask yourself “What’s In It For Me?” – WIIFM!

If you write content that clearly answers the question of WIIFM, then you’re almost guaranteed to be writing relevant content that won’t come across as spammy or irrelevant.

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