The term “content marketing” is one that gets thrown about quite a bit these days. But what exactly is content marketing, and how does it differ from traditional marketing?
It’s one of the most powerful ways to attract business in our new, internet-based information society and something most companies would do well to incorporate into their promotional strategies. Let’s break it down.
The Differences Between Traditional Advertising and Content Marketing
Everyone is familiar with traditional advertising. Ads are everywhere, from billboards to television commercials to sponsorship logos on t-shirts to those annoying pop-up ads that appear on websites. Ads like these are pretty straightforward – they give a pitch about why you would want to buy their product or service and hope that it inspires you to click or pick up the phone or go to the nearest store and spend money. Traditional advertising like this is still relevant and won’t be going away anytime soon.
However, with the rise of the internet, a concept called “content marketing” has risen to the forefront as a somewhat subtler, and oftentimes more effective, way to attract business.
The basic idea behind content marketing is to create (usually) free content that potential customers may find useful or entertaining in order to increase name recognition, build trust, create interest in your products and services, generate leads and more. Content can be anything from an informational article to a how-to video to a free lesson to a quiz and more.
The Content Marketing Institute explains the concept this way:
“Instead of pitching your products or services, you are providing truly relevant and useful content to your prospects and customers to help them solve their issues.”
How might this work to increase your business? A few examples:
- A vitamin supplement company offers a free eBook on natural health for anyone who signs up for their mailing list. They can then generate sales of their products by emailing specials and new product info to that list.
- An import auto repair shop does a monthly podcast where they talk about cars, take questions and give maintenance advice. This positions them as local experts on foreign cars and allows them to raise their rates due to increased demand for their services.
- A makeup artist does a series of YouTube makeup tutorials and in the description provides links to all the products used. He receives a commission on any sales generated by anyone who clicks on those links.
- A financial planner writes blog articles on topics relating to investing, stocks, retirement plans and so on. People searching the web for information on those topics find her articles and may contact her to help manage their investments.
- A photography supply company hosts a free webinar on getting started with your first digital camera. They then direct viewers to their website for supplies and encourage them to join the paid subscribers-only online forum for professional photography assistance.
- A band offers free downloads of a song to create interest in the band, leading to more bookings and greater album sales.
- This article is an example of content marketing. You probably found your way here via a web search to learn more about content marketing and while you’re on our website you may decide to outsource some of your marketing needs to J&M Business Solutions. (See how that works?)
As you can see, there are many different ways you can use free content to interest people in your products and services and generate more sales. And the above are just a sampling of ways to use content to drive business. You may come up with many more ideas to use creative content to reach your intended audience. The method that will work best for your business completely depends on your goals and which content types most lend themselves to attracting your ideal customer.
Some of the benefits of content marketing include:
It’s inexpensive or even free.
If you are willing to create your own content to start out, it may cost nothing but your time to write some blog articles or post a few videos to YouTube. You can also hire someone to create content for you, and it is still usually less expensive than most traditional advertising.
For the customer, it doesn’t feel like you’re “selling” to them.
Content marketing is a much more subtle way of increasing brand recognition and earning trust with potential customers than a billboard, commercial or Google Ad. If you provide something of value to people, they will be more likely to remember you and give you their business now or in future.
It gives people a no-risk way to try you out.
People can’t resist freebies. If you are trying to sell an online course, offering the first lesson for free is an effective way to nudge someone off the fence and get them to commit to at least getting started. (It’s free, so what do they have to lose?) Provide a great first lesson and it is much easier to get them to follow through and sign up for the full course.
It takes advantage of the way people actually shop.
The wealth of information on the internet allows people to do a bit of research before they buy. And the larger the purchase, the more research they tend to do. Many people ignore ads, even those well-targeted to the types of things they might purchase, and head straight to Google search to see what comes up at the top of their search results.
If you create the type of content people want, and that content ranks high in the Google results because you have followed good SEO practices, you are well-positioned to capture an audience that is interested in your products or services and is often ready and looking to buy.
Now get started brainstorming on how you can use creative content to drive sales, increase brand recognition and grow your business! Or contact us at J&M Business Solutions to discuss a strategy that meets your needs.