It would be cliché to suggest that the digital marketing landscape is becoming increasingly complex. Marketing and advertising have always been faced with the often-complex problem of knowing what will resonate with potential customers. Digital marketers face the same problem but unlike “traditional” marketing we have access to unprecedented levels of data about our intended audience. Learning as we go, we’re often able to craft content (blogs, articles, images, graphics) that users find valuable. Understanding that value is a nuanced and completely subjective concept, we try to gather and analyse multiple data sets before we ever put pen to paper.
What is contemporary content marketing?
Traditional marketing—think of a television commercial, for example—is based on the concept of interruption. A commercial diverts the viewer’s attention and interrupts them from viewing the “valuable” television program they were watching. Content marketing, in contrast, is based on the idea that trust is garnered through a genuine attempt to offer something that the reader or viewer will want to read, view, watch, or best yet—share. Content marketing talks “to” them rather than “at” audience. Depending on the product or service, thoughtful content marketing will help move a potential prospect through the digital funnel towards purchase and beyond towards becoming an advocate.
Unlike traditional advertising, content marketing is a persuasive soft sell and seeks to help the buyer make an informed decision. Sometimes, as digital marketers we attempt to create social proof of a product or service’s benefit through relying on the endorsement of key opinion leaders, or “influencers” in a particular industry. Think about it, it is far more effective if someone you trust endorses that new widget or gadget. This type of content, a kind of digital word-of-mouth, is as traditional as traditional gets—it’s just been given a new lease via content marketing.
Traditional Marketing vs Content Marketing
Let’s explore an example: If you’re in the floral business, getting a certain amount of walk-in traffic to your business would be expected if your business is centrally located in town. If you want to reach more customers, you might take out an ad in the local paper and maybe send out some direct mail postcards. Perhaps you decide to exhibit in the annual bridal show and home show. But how do you attract customers outside of these moments? How do you provide value for the user, even when they are not looking for your services? How will you keep them engaged and your business top-of-mind between purchases?
This could take a variety of forms:
- Beautiful images on your social media of recent work
- A bi-weekly blog with articles on relevant content such as “Best Flower Arrangements for a Winter Wedding” or “Easy, DIY Flower Arrangements for Your Next Dinner Party.”
- A weekly newsletter with a DIY home décor activity
- A monthly contest to encourage social media engagement
- A monthly donation of flowers to an important local cause
Content like this provides your audience with something they see value in and ensures you’re in front of them long before they are at the point of purchase. And, importantly, it provides an opportunity to build a connection to your brand.
You can’t go wrong creating content of various kinds that your customers see value in. If they see value, likely so will Google. If your content can be the answer to a searched question, you will likely rank higher in search results. Again, it’s about creating something that your customers see value in before you ever ask for the sale.
The beauty of it all?
Your content will sell for you while you’re asleep. It works even when you’re not.
When it comes to producing content, it can be a daunting task. You might have no idea where or how to get started. Remember: quality content, produced frequently will have the greatest effect on your business. To start, explore the topics that resonate with your prospective audience, consider why your audience works with you, what pain points to address or problems you solve, be creative, take a different approach, and have fun.
Today, we are more connected and more engaged than ever with digital media. Creating a space for your customer (and potential customer) to interact with your brand and develop trust at their own pace, will have lasting effects on your business. It is critical to continue to provide this opportunity, even after the sale is complete. Creating opportunity to further the dialogue with your customers will help lead to long-lasting brand loyalty and repeat business.
And if you are to take one thing away from this article…remember: providing something of value takes time and effort but can yield huge returns!
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