The term ‘Content Marketing’ is becoming increasingly familiar to many local businesses in South Africa who have come to understand, based very often on the advice of marketing consultants and other business leaders, that they need to be looking at incorporating content marketing in their overall marketing strategy.
But before we continue, if you’ve stumbled upon this article in your search for more information regarding content marketing, then let’s take a quick look at the definition of what content marketing essentially is:-
Content marketing is any form of marketing that is based on the creation and sharing of valuable information via internet channels (video, articles, eBooks, Case Studies, Whitepapers, Infographics) with the basic aim of attracting and retaining customers.
Just why does Content Marketing work?
Apart from the myriad benefits that content marketing offers, there are two key reasons why people are more open to it than they are to traditional advertising.
Most of us are subjected to thousands of messages per day with the result that we’ve become adept at blocking out the messages that we don’t want to see. Most of us visit websites and news portals which often feature numerous adverts flashing down the side of the website page, intent on attracting our attention. How much time do we really take to look at them?
By contrast, many of us spend a good deal of time on the internet, seeking out the information that is important to us. If we’re in the market for products such as a new bed or a new car, or if we’re looking for services such as an accountant or lawyer – for many of us our search begins on the internet, either with or without referrals from friends and family. When we’re busy with our search, we’re often looking to be convinced about the ability of a product or service provider to meet our needs. We want information upon which we can safely base our decision. We therefore seek out content.
In one of our earlier articles where we discussed ways to determine ROI in content marketing, we said that 80% of business decision-makers and 70% of consumers would prefer to get company information in a series of articles rather than an advertisement.
That’s quite a statement, but in the information driven world in which we exist today, most people want to make qualified decisions of their own accord. They’re less likely to blindly believe an ad or make decisions based on advertising alone. You’ll find this and some other fascinating information on the benefits of content marketing when you read this highly informative article on the Socialmedia Today website.
Make it your goal to add value…
Engaging in content marketing will not work without a solid set of goals and a strategy that will help you to achieve those goals. Above all however, your goal should not simply be based on self-promotion. People are intuitive enough to see through blatantly promotional material. Content marketing is based on the idea that you give first and ask later.
Quality is the name of the content marketing game and so while many organisations believe that a good content marketing plan is to…
A: set up a blog and compile articles for that blog;
B: create a newsletter and send content to your loyal subscribers and
C: create a Facebook and Twitter account as a third option for distributing content
…it is not. Content marketing offers no quick fixes and success demands quality.
While it is certainly better to be doing something than to be doing nothing, your business will benefit from a little time spent at planning what you wish to achieve and plotting your route to achieving your goals. This is doing content marketing in the right way!
There are two key approaches that can be taken to content marketing and to arrive at understanding the approach your business needs to take right now, you’ll need to determine whether you’re looking to attract more customers, or are wanting to up-sell and cross sell to an audience that already has some level of relationship with your brand.
1. Lead Generation
What is lead generation? Lead generation is the process of collecting contact information from prospective clients in order to open a channel of communication to that person from either the sales or marketing team (or both).
Examples: Specialised, valuable content and information such as online whitepapers, webinars, case studies, newsletter subscriptions. Contact information is obtained via a form which the prospect needs to complete in order to receive content.
Results: Short-term immediate results – creating brand awareness and gaining contacts that can be developed from prospects into customers.
2. Demand Generation
What is demand generation? Demand generation is aimed at changing perceptions, or creating a level of awareness regarding your products, services and industry overall, through an educational, informative approach.
Examples: Generalised content and information such as online articles, press releases and blog posts, online videos, informative social media posts.
Results: Longer-term more comprehensive results – creating more in-depth awareness around products and services, increasing loyalty to your brand, as well as making return or repeat business easier and more probable.
Once you know what you need or wish to achieve through your content marketing efforts, it will be easier for you to formulate your content marketing strategy.
For many businesses there is a need for a combined approach which incorporates both some lead generation and some demand generation. It is important however to decide on the balance that you want to strike between the two initially, in order to achieve a specific objective. In addition, you must decide how you envisage the balance should be shifted once your strategy starts to mature and yield the results you seek.
Commit to content marketing to make it work
Whether you are looking to attract leads or wanting to entrench relationships – consistency in content marketing is key.
If you are developing leads, you will once you have attracted and obtained your treasured prospects, need to nurture those potential relationships and keep interest ignited with a regular flow of valuable information.
If you are wanting to entrench loyalty, build trust and increase demand, it is important to understand that you will not be able to achieve this within the first few months of your creating and distributing valuable content. Your patient commitment to the content marketing process is vital and you will need to continue producing and sharing a steady stream of highly informative, educational, value adding material that succeeds in setting you apart from your competitors.
Unlike advertising, where you are paying each time for a prospect or existing customer to simply remember your brand, with content marketing you are creating an online repository of value that inspires engagement and conversation, and which is able to accurately showcase the knowledge you have of your industry and specialty.
Once your content marketing strategy is active and you are able to maintain momentum, ensuring that you are reliably delivering outstanding content on a regular basis – you can rest assured that your content marketing plan will pay off lifelong dividends.
If the prospect of developing your content marketing strategy appears prohibitively onerous, our talented team at The Formula is able to help you. Give Garth Dahl or Shiraz Khatib a call on 021 556 5661 or email us: email@example.com for assistance. Our consultations are free and we’re always looking for ways to help you make your business flourish!