Content marketing is simply a marketing process of creating and distributing valuable and informative information in a broad range of online formats, to attract, acquire and engage an audience (that is specifically defined and understood) to ultimately take a desired customer action.

Content marketing is not selling. Today’s consumer predominantly does not want to be overtly sold to. Consumers choose (literally) what media, and in what medium, they want to, well, consume! They fast-forward TV commercials, glaze over printed catalogues and barely flinch at ‘flashing ads’ online. Sure, a significant sale notice can grab your attention.  Why wouldn’t it in this cut-throat world of brand saturation, consumerism and in many cases mediocrity, where a bargain is available nearly every second day? The ability for brands to cut-through and for consumers to cope with being ‘spoken at’ on a daily basis has become overwhelming. Selling and marketing is no longer a one-way street and the shift is almost solely in the hands of the consumer. Which is where content marketing comes in to play and presents businesses with the next best opportunity: to use content to engage and enlist customers to ‘love’ their brand.

Content marketing is ‘non-interruption’ marketing. Instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent. The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent and valuable information to buyers, they ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty.

Big businesses are using it and smaller businesses are adopting it as a cost-effective way to market their business. In many cases, smaller businesses have been doing it for longer and better than their larger counterparts. Larger businesses have taken longer to catch on and have still been under the influence of more traditional (and far more expensive) marketing mediums and models, many of which are one-dimensional and difficult to measure. Why the shift? Because it is where consumers are (online) and it is working for businesses (brand awareness and sales).

Effective SEO, informative and interesting blogs, engaging social media pages and profiles, simple, easy-to-use and informative websites and relevant eNewsletters are proving powerful tools in delivering information about products and services to a consumer who has nominated a business as important to them. It is almost a new form of permission based marketing:  “I like you…tell me more about you. Keep me interested (not just via price point) and I might just buy from you!”

The Content Marketing Institute makes a great point though.  Take out ‘relevant and valuable’ from the description of content marketing, and you are left with what most of us have been doing traditionally for years. Take note: the content you intend to distribute needs to be useful, informative, consistent, relevant and valuable for your audience. Don’t worry yourself about what the business up the road is doing, develop your own specific content marketing strategy and choose the online mediums that you know your targeted customers use to obtain the information from you. Devise your overall online marketing strategy, make a content management plan, be frequent in delivering your content, ask customers to do something, mix it up and try new stuff. Don’t be afraid to be different (read innovative); content marketing allows you to establish a point of difference as the boundaries of traditional marketing methods are not there, and your opportunity is to flaunt that as much as you can.

PS: Content marketing is not easy. It can take time and effort to implement. Businesses are faced with challenges whether it’s managing time, planning a content management approach, coming up with new content ideas, maintaining a blog and writing new material consistently, or simply planning what content to share on Facebook and Twitter. Fortunately, there are several great tools that can help you with your content marketing efforts and GOOP can also help. Contact us for an informal, no—obligation chat about how content marketing can work for you.

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