I keep reading references to Content Marketing – what exactly is this?
Ask Silver Bullet: January 2017
In essence, Content Marketing is the creation and distribution of valuable and high quality content to your audience with the object of increasing the quantity of your audience, the level of their engagement and the awareness of your brand. Successful content marketing will then hopefully lead to more engagement, more enquiries and, of course, ultimately more sales.
You are, in effect, giving information away free of charge, in the hope that your audience begins to value and trust your content, thereby trusting and valuing your brand. Whilst it’s very relevant in the digital age, it’s not at all new, with the printed equivalent being reports and white papers that were seen as respected and unbiased content by their readers.
The main point is that successful content is editorially-minded providing educational information without the sales pitch as most consumers, both current and potential, do not want to hear marketing, or advertising messages. Conversely, modern day consumers have a real desire for “content”, a thirst for relevant information that is seemingly unquenchable and content marketing can give consumers that information.
The digital age has given marketers a plethora of channels to put out content, especially video and social media, and a growing number of devices to ensure that they can connect with their audience virtually on a 24/7 basis. The skill of the marketer is to understand his or her audience, what content will interest them and what channel to use to deliver this – in this, nothing has changed from traditional advertising and marketing – what message, to whom and how?
What has changed, however, is the trust savvy consumers now place in content against traditional advertising. The 2015 Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Report found that across the world, the medium people tend to trust (or like) the least is text ads, specifically on mobile, where 65% of digital media is being consumed. On the list of trusted mediums, however, editorial content outranked ads on TV, radio and billboards, as well as in newspapers and magazines.
Primarily, Content Marketing can build trust by the creation of useful and interesting content – the audience trusts the content and therefore trusts the business. The content should never be about you or your business, which would be the direct hard sell, but rather information, links and background relevant to your sector - even your most enthusiastic customers are more interested in what you can do for them for free!
Good content will not only increase engagement with existing customers creating a richer experience as a solid basis of referral and repeat business, but it will also attract new business, the lifeblood of any organisation, by being shared on social media and discussed. Another potential area of benefit is the development of new business ideas – to find out exactly what your customers want and even trying out new products.
Remember, sales are not the be all and end all of this marketing – 85% of businesses use content marketing not for an initial sale but to develop the engagement, increase consumer confidence and create brand awareness, all of which will, in turn, yes, you guessed it, lead to increased sales.
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