Have you ever found someone to be so relatable, so helpful, so fun or so engaging that you just couldn’t wait to hear what they’d say next? Maybe their unique perspective ignited your interest or inspired an emotional connection. Perhaps you were drawn to their distinctive style or appearance. Or maybe they helped you come up with a solution to a vexing problem you’ve had.
Consider for a moment the last time you read something online, saw a video, or heard a presentation that stood out to you—what was it that made an impression on you? What made it memorable to you? How did you feel? Did it address concerns or fears that you have? Did it make you laugh? Was it relevant to your life? Did it motivate you to action? These are some of the traits that you’ll find in today’s top-performing marketing content.
What Is Content Marketing?
Let’s start with Integrated Marketing. The DMA defines Integrated Marketing as an approach to creating a unified and seamless experience for consumers to interact with the brand or enterprise; it attempts to meld all aspects of marketing communication so that all work together as a unified force. It is a process designed to ensure that all messaging and communications strategies are consistent across all channels and are centered on the customer.
A branch of Integrated 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 drive profitable customer action.
A significant part of your Integrated Marketing campaign should focus on Content Marketing. High quality content is one of the most valuable currencies on the Internet today. With Content Marketing, it’s all about providing value before asking for anything. Instead of pitching your products or services, you are offering information that gives your buyer the ability to make educated, informed decisions. The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, and establish yourself as an expert, they ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty.
Whenever you have the opportunity to tell stories, educate, differentiate, increase awareness, build brand image, or shape perceptions, you are providing content. Here are examples of Content Marketing:
- Social Media
- Downloadable Content
(i.e. Whitepapers / eBooks)
- Product Reviews
- LinkedIn Articles (or other Website Articles)
- HD Videos (Vlogging, instructional YouTube)
- Case Studies
- Photos / Illustrations
- Webinars / Webcasts
- Research Reports
- Printed & Digital Magazines
- Printed Newsletters
- In-person Events / Presentations
- Books, Brochures
All The Feels
Choosing a service provider is often an emotional decision rather than a logical one. People want to be validated, feel important, feel connected to their service providers, they want transparency, and they crave unique & helpful insights for solutions to their problems. High quality content helps you to build an audience, creates trust, illustrates your expertise, and builds relationships with your clients and prospects.
Understanding how true engagement and connections are made is key to successful Content Marketing. Even skeptical prospects become true and loyal customers when they become convinced that your organization holds the solutions to their problems—the perplexing issues that frighten them, annoy them, and rob them of sleep and peace.
Solution-focused content shows you understand and you can deliver. True engagement isn’t something you sell. Real engagement makes you feel something and brings personal meaning. Strategies and outcomes must align with what your audience values.
What Content to Provide?
The gap between what you already know and what you need to know is separated only by three things: listening, observing and understanding the people in your target audience. Asking yourself the following questions can help you identify what content you should generate and topics you should focus on:
- What matters most? To you? To your audience? (They may not be the same!!)
- What is relevant, useful, helpful, entertaining, and engaging?
- What questions does your audience have?
- What are their problems that you could provide solutions to?
- Where do they go for solutions and why?
- What are they trying to accomplish?
- What do they value? Are your values aligned with theirs?
Your audience wants to feel like you are listening to them and you have solutions to their problems. They want to feel confident that you are the expert who will help them make the right choice.
Bringing It All Together
You need to be relevant and relatable while being different. What makes you and your business different? What value do you provide? Just remember, your audience doesn’t care what you can do for them unless they feel like you care about them as individuals first. To summarize in four points…
1) Offer relevant information they need à educate and establish credibility.
2) Express interest and understanding à establish trust.
3) Make your audience feel validated & inspired à foster long-term relationships.
4) Differentiate yourself à offer value.
Be interesting, entertaining, eye-catching, or thought-provoking. And offer educational content that is relevant to your audience so that YOU become relevant to them. Don’t take it for granted—attention is a gift. So, surprise, inspire, delight and educate your audience!
Make it so they can’t wait to see what you do next!
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