You’ve probably heard the buzzword ‘content marketing’ and you keep wondering what that’s all about.
Maybe you attempted to read about it but you’re unable to understand or grasp what it’s about.
I’ll be sharing with you what content marketing is, why it’s so important for your brand, and how it works, all in a simple and easy-to-digest kind of way
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.Content Marketing Institute (CMI)
Simply put, content marketing is attracting your ideal audience/customers by providing valuable content.
It is a strategic type of marketing that is based on the use of content to get the attention of your ideal audience/customer and get them to know, like, and trust you.
Content is the information and experiences; directed at an end-user or audience in publishing, art, and communication. Content is delivered via different media including, the internet, cinema, television, radio, smartphones, audio CDs, books, e-books, magazines, and live events.Wikipedia
This content can be in any format; written, image, video, and audio.
It’s a busy world out there and everything competes for the attention of your audience and even you. People now have options when it comes to who to buy from.
Why should anyone pick your business? Why should anyone patronize you? People tend to buy from who they know, like, and trust.
Think about it. When you buy something, isn’t it from a brand you’ve come to know, like, and trust?
How do you get to know, like, and trust this brand?
Most times, it’s from interacting with the brand.
You probably saw them on social media and loved the things they did and stood for. It could be their helpful, funny, or inspiring post. It could also be from an ad you saw online that you connected with. Maybe it’s from a helpful blog article about how to solve that problem you have and so you thought, ‘they must be in the best position to give me the right product or service for my problem’.
All that is what is known as content marketing.
These brands were able to get you to know about them and like them. They did so by putting out content that resonates with you, is useful and relevant to you, so eventually and naturally, you trust that they can deliver on what they offer.
Why is Content Marketing important?
The ultimate goal of a business is to make sales which eventually leads to making profits. As with any other marketing effort, content marketing can help you reach your goal.
However, making sales using content marketing strategies might not be a direct effect but an indirect one.
Unlike an ad that people click to buy your product, a blog post or an interesting video might not do that directly but it makes people think of you because, now you caught their attention. This is good and simply means they have completed the first step to buying from you. It’s only a matter of time.
With content marketing, you can achieve the following for your business:
- Increase brand awareness
- Build trust
- Build a relationship with your ideal audience
- Become a thought leader in your niche
- Create a loyal following, which results in customer retention and evangelism
How does content marketing work?
Content marketing is very intentional and strategic. Just like every scene in a movie, there is a reason for each content an organization creates and distributes.
That blog post about how to take care of your teeth isn’t there for nothing, there’s a reason behind it. That inspiring video you watched from a brand has a strategic reason behind it.
There is a way content marketing works. I like to call it a principle, and that is, — provide value and attract your tribe.
As a business, you have a product or service you sell. These products or services are for someone and appeal to them. With content marketing, you can connect these people to your services.
How do you do that?
By meeting and serving them at each touchpoint of your product/service. You prepare content ready to serve your audience or prospects at each possible point they may come across or need your products/services.
When a company’s blog post, podcast or YouTube video helps you solve a problem, it get you to, first of, know that they exist (brand awareness), and it also gets you to trust them.
As a business, you should approach content marketing by providing value to attract your ideal buyer, and to gain their trust and loyalty. That way, they get to buy from you always. How you provide value is through content and the content could be educative, inspiring, entertaining or all three.
Creating content that serves your audience at each touchpoint of your product/service will require you have an understanding of what the buyer’s journey is.
The buyer’s journey
The buyer’s journey according to Hubspot is ‘the buyer’s path to purchase’.
Simply put, it’s the different stages a buyer goes through to eventually buy something.
There are 3 main stages of the buyer’s journey.
The awareness stage
This is where the prospect has a problem. It could be one they are aware of or unaware of.
In this stage, the aim is to educate and help them learn more about their problems. Here, your prospects are not ready to buy from you just yet. They are still learning about their problems and the way forward.
An example of content to create in this stage is the one that answers the ‘why’ kind of questions.
Questions like, ‘Why am I not making sales?’ ‘Why do I have an itchy eye?’ Etc. Your content could be, ‘5 reasons you’re not making sales’, ‘Here are 4 reasons for an itchy eye’, etc.
The consideration stage
Here, the buyer knows they have a problem and are considering solutions to this problem. They are wondering which solution is best for them.
The kind of content to share in this stage of the buyer’s journey are solution-based content. Examples are ‘Ways to increase sales in your business’, ‘How to stop an itchy eye’ etc.
The decision/closing stage
Here, the buyer knows what method they want to use for their solution and are checking the possible brands they can patronize for the solution they want.
They have decided on what solution to use, but need to pick the brand to go with.
Content for this stage would be ‘The top 10 books that can help you increase your sales’, ‘How to select the marketing agency that is right for you’, ‘Things to look out for in a great eye drop’, Q&As about your product, how to use your product, etc.
All these help the buyer choose a brand, and if done well, you can subtly nudge them to choose you.
Remember, you want the buyer to think they arrived at the decision to choose you by themselves.
With the examples given in each stage, it might seem like it’s only for blog posts, but it’s not.
A blog post is not the only medium for sharing content. You can also share on your social media pages, your podcast, YouTube channel, webinar, and basically any medium your audience is likely to interact with.
What is important is that you understand the stages of the buyer’s journey and the type of content that serves each of them.
In addition to creating content for the buyer’s journey, you can also create content that nurtures your audience; whether it’s to entertain them, inform them or inspire them.
It is this particular strategy of nurturing your audience that brands use social media. They create helpful, inspiring, and entertaining content to draw their ideal audience in and they also use such content to nurture and engage them, while putting their products/services in front of them.
Good content marketing always gets your ideal audience or prospects to know, like, and trust you. It keeps your brand at the top of their minds when they want a particular thing in your niche. It creates a connection with these people and forms a community, which makes them loyal to your brand.
With all these in mind, you need a good content marketing strategy to get you started.
What does an effective content marketing strategy entail?
Now you know what it means to create content at each stage of the buyer’s journey but what does an effective content marketing strategy look like?
Before creating content as a business, you need to make sure you have a plan; you need a real strategy. That way, you are intentional about your content and know what exactly it’s doing.
I see a content strategy as a story, it simply flows. Just like a movie, one scene unwraps another until the big picture is exposed and it all makes sense. It’s kind of like a harmony; they are all in symphony to accomplish a goal.
To create an effective content marketing strategy, you need to answer the following questions:
- What are your goals for content marketing?
- Who are you?
- Who are your ideal customers?
Let’s talk about this some more.
What are your goals for content marketing?
There are different reasons businesses utilize content marketing, of which the ultimate one is to make sales.
However, making sales is indirect. What do you want to achieve to make sales at the end of it all?
Do you want brand awareness? Is your goal to build an audience? Is it to have a community? Or to increase awareness of a particular product?
Whatever it is, you need to specify. It will determine how you go about your content marketing strategy.
The strategy to build a community of fans will be different from the one you need to increase awareness of a new product.
Who are you?
When I say ‘who are you?’ I’m referring to your brand.
So, who are you? What is your brand about? Why are you doing what you’re doing? What’s different about you compared to others? Why should people choose you?
You need to know these because they’ll help you better position yourself to attract the kind of audience/customer you want.
Who are your ideal customers?
Knowing who your ideal customers are will make you understand them. You get to know how they act, think, and consume things. You understand their struggles, goals, what they like, how they do things, their needs, etc.
You need all this information to help you present the type of content that will attract them to you.
Knowing your ideal customers well will let you know if they prefer Facebook to Instagram or if they would rather watch a video or read a blog. The insights you get when you study who your customers are will be helpful when creating a content strategy.
Having answers to those three questions will help you create a unique content strategy that is specific to your business and potential customers.
A good content strategy is one that makes sure the content shared is helpful to your audience, in a content format that is best consumed by them and on a platform they can easily engage with you.
A good content marketing strategy softly and intuitively guides your prospect to patronize you and be loyal to you.
You lead your prospects from one point to another in a way that feels natural and authentic to them. Most times, your prospects don’t know that you influence these things because it seems natural.
For instance, a prospect might google ‘how to write better’ and your website pops up on the first page of Google. They click your blog post and get information that helps them with their question.
They also see other blog posts related to writing and notice that you provide value in those blog posts and have resources that can further help them.
As they read about you and engage with your website, they begin to see that you truly understand what it means to be a good writer and so, they sign up for your newsletters.
For your prospect to browse ‘how to write better’, chances are that they’re interested in writing and will like to learn more.
They see that you have an ebook that delves deeper into the subject of writing. Having known you and seen what you can do with the value you share, that prospect is very much likely to buy your ebook.
Why? You’re not a stranger to them, they have come to see that you care about their needs and can help them. You have consistently shown up and so, they know, like, and trust you, which makes the decision to buy from you easier to take.
To the prospect, they are just doing what’s normal and intuitive. To you as a brand, you made sure you thought of different stages and ways in which you can help and serve a prospect and nurture them into being a customer.
You know that someone looking for help with their writing is most likely to google it and so you have an optimized blog that talks about these things.
You know this person might want to be sure you know what you’re doing when it comes to writing and so your social media talks about writing, whether it’s inspiring, informative, or entertaining content. You make sure your website is filled with useful and relevant content that this person may want to see.
You also know that your prospect might have doubts on whether to buy what you’re selling, which in this case is an ebook, and so you create content that talks about how helpful your ebook is and what it can do. You have Q&As and show testimonials to help this person decide to choose what you’re selling. Eventually, they patronize you and you make a sale.
If your ebook is super helpful, you have gained an evangelist and that’s a beautiful thing because, people trust referrals from friends and loved ones and are more likely to buy solely based on referrals.
All you did to achieve that sale, is what is known as a content marketing strategy.
What’s a real-life example of content marketing?
Think of that brand you’ve come to like and patronize? That one you’re a fan of.
What do you like about them? Why do you like them? Just think about it a little bit.
You might find that it’s how you have come to perceive them over the years and this is as a result of the content they put out there for you to see, whether it’s through their social media, blogs, podcast, magazines, etc.
You saw these things as interesting to you, helpful, inspiring, or even entertaining and it all just connects with you, you’ve grown to like them and maybe love them.
That, my friend, is a real-life example of good content marketing.
Let me know which brand came to mind in the comments and why.