Content marketing only existed a couple of years ago but is now quickly becoming a part of marketing that most brands can’t do without. Perhaps you’ve heard about content marketing and you’re wondering if it will work for you.
What if you sell hardware offline? Would content marketing work for you? Or is content marketing only effective for digital businesses?
In this article, I will guide you through the basics of content marketing and show you why you should invest in content marketing for your business no matter if your business is digital or not.
First, what is content marketing?
You’ve heard a lot about content marketing but what is it exactly?
Content marketing is using content to build relationships with people with the goal of turning them into customers.
Content marketing is what brands are doing when they ask their fans to comment on a photo they uploaded on their Facebook page, or when they start a contest on Twitter.
By providing content that people find useful or that people want to engage with, brands succeed in building relationships with people they can sell to later.
Why it works
Content marketing works because when you give people content they can use, they tend to trust you more when they’re ready to buy. Over some random person they don’t know, people are more likely to buy from people they trust.
Think about it. If you had to buy from two equally qualified people, who would you choose? Someone who has been in touch with you for 10 months or someone who only just appeared because you wanted to buy something?
Most people would buy from someone they already know.
Content Marketing vs Paid Advertising
Content marketing often outperforms paid advertising because content marketing asks for permission to share content with someone but paid advertising does not. When you ask someone for permission to share content with them, they are more likely to trust you than if you interrupt them with paid advertising.
The difference between content marketing and paid advertising is easy to spot: think about the free, useful video you found that helped you lose weight vs. the sales-y video that promises you X, Y and Z results but only after you pay them a crazy fee to reveal their secrets to you.
When someone offers you free, useful content, you are more likely to buy their paid content or services than if someone simply interrupts your viewing of a show to tell you how cool their products or services are.
Companies that use content marketing
Most of the biggest brands today use content marketing as a way of getting new customers. Big automobile brands such as BMW, Mercedes Benz and Ferrari all have Facebook pages where they share updates about the newest cars in their line.
But content marketing is not limited to big brands. A lot of small businesses also make use of content marketing to build relationships with people they want to sell to in the future. Online marketer Neil Patel famously uses content marketing to sell his marketing consulting services.
But your brand doesn’t have to be digital for content marketing to work. Richard Branson of the Virgin group which has businesses in aviation and hotels, uses his Virgin blog to engage with people and show them what he is really like as a person. Because of this, Richard Branson has one of the most trusted faces in the world.
Should You Use Content Marketing?
Now, the question is, should you use content marketing as part of your marketing strategy?
Here’s a checklist to help you decide:
1. Do you want to spend time building lasting relationships with people?
2. Are you committed to showing up with good quality content day in and day out for free?
3. Can you make time in your week to build a content plan that takes care of what people really need?
4. Are you willing to go for a long period of time without seeing any results?
5. Do you have the resources necessary to test many ideas before succeeding? (if not, can you get them?)
The thing about content marketing is that it is time consuming and you will likely need to try many different methods before you succeed. Your first or even 100th try will not be a success but if you persist you will likely find a way to build a genuine relationship with people you want to sell your products or services to.
How to Get Started
The best thing about content marketing is that most of the information you need to get started are available online for free. You can get the most comprehensive training in content marketing with just a few Google clicks.
Here are some articles and guides you can read to get started:
Some of these articles/guides are very detailed. If you really want to learn the basics of content marketing I suggest you spend as much time as you can to go through them in detail.
Content marketing is quickly becoming one of the most effective ways to get more customers as well as to retain your existing customers. It doesn’t matter if your business is digital or not, you can benefit from the relationships that you build as a result of content marketing.
There are many resources you can find online about online marketing. To be effective at content marketing you need to test different ideas. To see your content marketing efforts pay off, you will also need to commit yourself to providing high quality content for people on a consistent basis.