Content marketing is fundamental to almost any effective marketing campaign. There are guides upon guides about it. Content marketing pieces are created to draw your audience in by providing something of value to them. It can be informational, entertaining, or useful, such as a free tool. People are allowed to enjoy and benefit from your content without buying your product or services. The increased awareness gained by providing content your target audience likes leads to some of them electing to do business with you.
Before I dig in with Vyteo’s guide for the DIY startup marketer I’ll direct you to two content marketing pieces that give it the full tour- Moz’s Beginner’s Guide and QuickSprout’s Advanced Guide. If you want to know more at length and ad infinitum on the topic, those tomes await. If you’d like to know what you need to know for all practical purposes, read on.
Content marketing can oftentimes be the centerpiece of your marketing outreach. It engages potential customers on a level that’s comfortable to them by providing something they find interesting. It gives you something to share with new and existing customers to keep them engaged. Online content in particular can greatly help with your SEO. Contrary to almost every other marketing asset, it can increase in value over time by gaining social clout and search traffic. We discuss this in our PR guide and also a length in our guide on article promotion. As bloggers we’re supremely biased toward promoting content and the merits of doing so.
An example of content marketing is a bike shop that creates a series of videos on how to fix and tune up your bike. Some people will follow the videos and fix their bikes themselves. Others will become aware of the bike experts and head on in to the shop. Another example is providing informational seminars on your area of expertise. By providing educational, valuable, and interesting content, sales increase.
One of the limitations of content marketing is there are only so many ways to skin the cat. Often enough content marketing follows a predictable pattern. First teams create content revolving around their product and services. When that well runs dry or they run out of creative ideas, they create content revolving around their business. For example, “how we built our sales team,” “how we made our first ten hires,” or “how we used bike tutorials to grow our business.” In many cases the people creating content work in the marketing department and can be prone to reaching for business angles rather than product angles. Some of the pitches this blog receives actually include notes about the marketing tactics they use, rather than the needs their product addresses. Those are the problems marketers work on resolving all day, so the temptation is ever present to discuss them. It’s not bad per se, and it can help, they say, but it’s important to keep in mind your audience.
Beyond providing value, the key to content marketing is to present and resolve the problem your business addresses.
The good news for startups is some forms content marketing are often best prepared by the production team. The marketing pro the bike shop hired doesn’t know how to give a tutorial on fixing bikes. They’ll review the script, oversee the video production, and distribute it once it’s done, but the content is provided by the bike mechanics. The same is true for startups. They know best the problem they solve. Formats range from blogs, to eBooks, landing pages, videos, infographics, newsletters, podcasts, comics, tools, or anything else you may come up with. Every audience has a preferred way to be reached. The simplest type of content marketing is to describe how to manually perform your services step by step. If you’re a provider of preconfigured servers you could write a detailed list of how to configure servers. Another format is describing how to solve the greater problem your service has a part in resolving. If you sell accounting software you could write articles on how to properly balance your books, pay taxes, and payroll. Your target audience would find it interesting and become aware of your product. Educated prospects turn into paying customers.
Sometimes you can gain something in return such as the common paradigm of offering a white paper for newsletter signups. Or you may charge people to attend an informational seminar where you are also advertising for new clients. Trade shows are a form of content marketing, with Salesforce’s Dreamforce and Box’s BoxWorks being among the largest in San Francisco. People literally pay to attend what is fundamentally a multi-day advertisement because of the value they provide. These conference are no doubt the biggest part of each company’s respective marketing efforts.
As consumers I think we’ve all learned to take content marketing with a grain of salt. If a business is sponsoring content, sooner or later along comes the sales pitch. And their advice is likely to include bias. I’ve found this to be especially true in the arena of marketing guides. In some cases they promote marketing tips that have limited effectiveness, but the fact that you’re reading them makes the content piece effective for them. Since content marketing lends itself to lack of sincerity I’m starting to favor the Red Bull model- where your content is strictly entertaining or valuable and doesn’t immediately sell anything. Neil Patel’s treatise on content marketing has a broad array of examples, including more on Red Bull’s unstoppable adrenaline infused campaigns.
Quality content is of great value and incorporating it into your marketing campaigns is essential. When set to a choreographed editorial calendar it will make a lasting and profound impression on your audience. Whether you shoot for a viral video, create the blog posts of blog posts, or embark on the video series to end them all, a targeted content marketing campaign is one of the best ways to promote your business.