It's no secret that over recent years consumers have grown increasingly immune to traditional advertising methods. The advent of MySky has meant many New Zealanders are no longer forced to watch TV commercials, meanwhile magazine and newspaper readers have long ago learned to ignore the print ads that add clutter to the stories we're really interested in reading about. As consumers we're getting better and better at shutting out the world of traditional marketing and are instead turning to friends, family, ratings and reviews to help us gain insight on purchase decisions.
As such, smart companies are quickly learning that they can connect with their consumers with greater impact (and for significantly less budget) by using digital channels as opposed to traditional television, radio and print mediums. To this end, one online marketing approach that we've seen grow increasingly prominent over the past 12 months or so is that of 'Content Marketing' - a strategy built upon the belief that if companies provide valuable content and information to buyers on a regular basis, buyers will ultimately reward those companies with their business and loyalty.
In essence, Content Marketing is the art of communicating with prospective and existing customers without selling. Instead of pitching or attempting to persuade someone to buy your product or hire your services, you're delivering information that educates buyers and makes them more intelligent. Instead of developing ads designed to interrupt customers, you're looking to create targeted, useful and relevant content for your audience using a variety of mediums including (but by no means limited to):
There are a myriad of reasons why you might choose a Content Marketing strategy to attract and engage with your target audience. For me, the following three are up there with the most important:
OK, so now you've hopefully grasped the basic concept of Content Marketing, but if not here's an example of a NZ based company that's doing a good job of producing targeted content that's useful, educational and well presented.
Xero (www.xero.com) provides an online accounting solution for businesses, complete with invoicing/billing, accounts payable, bank reconciliation and bookkeeping.
By taking a seemingly 'dry' product and regularly producing a raft of good quality content they've helped build a loyal following of users, some of whom might in time even become product evangelists (if not already). Xero has achieved this not only by offering a great product which is easy to use, but also by giving away lots of free, good quality information about the product via their blog, not to mention their online events, training opportunities and seminars. Having said that, do bear in mind that the content you produce always needs to be high quality and well aligned with your audience or else you'll run the risk of a backlash, as Xero recently experienced.
So, you're ready to get started with Content Marketing but not sure where to start? As with any foray into a new kind of marketing activity the hardest part is often the start. With that in mind the following list offers a few simple ideas that you should be able to get up and running in a relatively painless fashion.
Whatever you do make sure you know what the key topics of interest are for your audience and ensure the content you produce is written at a level that easily connects with your target audience. Prepare an informative blog post that addresses a particular problem that your target audience is facing and promote it to your network via social media and/or your email newsletter.
For example, if you're an insurance broker you could write a detailed post about the impact of the Christchurch earthquakes on the New Zealanders' ability to get insurance in the future and the impact of rising premiums to compensate for the losses suffered in Christchurch. You could possibly outline some scenarios as examples of how typical New Zealanders will be affected and offer some suggestions for New Zealanders to consider going forward.
Regardless of whether you're a large, established brand or a fledgling start-up, there are always opportunities for incorporating Content Marketing into your overall strategy.
When preparing content make sure to stay laser focused on your audience and try to think of yourself as a teacher/educator, not an advertiser. Help your buyers to learn more about our products and your industry so that they can make informed purchase decisions when they're ready to buy.
Before creating any content make sure to ask yourself the following question: "Would anyone find this content useful or interesting?" If you're in doubt, then move along to another topic or kind of content. And last but not least, remember that Content Marketing should focus on your audience and their needs; it's not just about you and your business. Adopt this approach and create good quality content on a regular basis and over time you'll see more visits to your site, more enquiries and more customers.