Have you ever wanted to change the channel when the commercial comes on? How about the radio station? Of course – you might have even stopped watching TV entirely because of it.
This is exactly why content marketing works. It doesn’t interrupt what you’re doing, and it doesn’t just tell you about a product that solves your problem.
It actually solves a problem or fills a need.
Call me oblivious, but I hadn’t even heard of the term content marketing until about 4 years ago. Although, I actually understood the concept long before, and I know you did too. Content marketing has been around since the first person on earth that wanted to be a tribe leader built authority by holding a gathering to explain how to hunt more effectively (don’t ask me for a reference…)
I’ve heard some different definitions over the years, some good, some.. well, less good.. But here’s how I put it:
“Content marketing is providing valuable, desired content for a targeted audience in order to build awareness, trust, and relationships for strategic future benefit to the creator.”
Let’s break it down and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what content marketing is.
Content Marketing Provides Value
Value is a bit of a general word, and that’s okay because your content can be instructional, entertaining, thought provoking, a time-killer, educational and so on. But the point is that it provides something your audience believes is valuable (not you, nobody cares what you think is valuable).
Seems self-explanatory if you’re providing value, but it needs to be said because your seemingly valuable content could go undesired by everyone… you could end up being the guy that showed up to help your friends move in a Porche 911 (Valuable, just not desirable at the time). The biggest jackpot of content marketing is that people seek it out. They need something, they desire it, and hopefully you have the best information, tool, or solution.
Nothing is for everyone. Even toilet paper isn’t used by everyone. But if you refine your target to a narrow set of people, you can connect with them in a way that they understand and agree with. You also want to make sure that you’re not wasting your time and effort attracting people that won’t bring you value later (more on that later). Overall, a targeted approach helps you provide a better perceived value to your audience.
It Builds Awareness
If your content is desirable, you’re ideally going to have people that have never heard of you finding your content and learning about your organization. This could be through social media, Google or other searches, word of mouth and so on. Content helps grow the number of people that are aware of you or your organization’s existence.
It Builds Trust
A great way to build trust is to solve someone’s problem and providing value at no cost (or minimal). Trust is especially important if your product is less tangible, has less social visibility, or if it commands a higher price. There are plenty of ways to build trust, but content can accelerate it before you even have a chance to talk with them.
Your content can also be injected with personality and creativity, further allowing your audience to connect with you on a human level. In the 21st century, more human and less corporate equals more trust.
It Builds Relationships
Relationships are long-term, they’re 2-way, they contain trust, and they’re consistently nurtured. Keeping that in mind, creating consistent content over time allows you to keep in touch with your audience so that WHEN THEY DO need your services, you are the first one they think of. Content marketing is not a quick play game, it’s a way of doing business for the long-haul. So put down your blackjack hand and start betting on the big leagues.
It Strategically Benefits the Creator
This seems obvious, but without it the entire meaning breaks down. Without a strategy for a returned benefit now or in the future you’re just creating content – not content marketing.
You notice here I also don’t use the word profit like others might. You can benefit from content marketing in many ways, not just direct money. Content marketing can be used to attract employees, attract volunteers, build fame, or do social good.
Content is everywhere. Sometimes it is the product, sometimes it is the marketing for a product. This distinction is getting a little bit blurry lately. But as Seth Godin says, “[Content Marketing] is all the marketing that’s left.”
The next time you question whether content marketing is a good idea, ask yourself: Is it better to interrupt a conversation with your pitch or to be invited into the conversation because they trust you offer something of value?