Content Marketing is one of the latest buzz phrases being associated with Internet Marketing. It describes marketing methods that use information, education and entertainment to make the sales process easier. It is not a new concept though. Many marketing efforts use these methods; Trade-show presentations, advertorials that are advertisements written as an editorial, and my favorite sales pitch from 1976 – Jim Henson’s video to pitch the Muppet Show to the top brass at CBS.
This video definitely informed the managers at CBS what the Muppet Show was all about, especially as the the idea of putting a puppet show on prime time was incredibly risky, and it is entertaining. While you do not need to be as creative, you can offer content that demonstrates your product, solves a potential problem or addresses an unknown need, without the “pushy” sales effort.
How to do Content Marketing?
Content Marketing refers to building information and freely sharing it with your audience to build a relationship of trust. By offering content to them for free, you are qualifying your prospects, as only those that have an interest in your content, and thereby your product or service, will opt-in to receive additional content via e-mail or other vehicles. By offering this content for free, you are providing value that helps convert prospects into customers and promotes customers into frequent buyers. Additionally the frequent and repeated exposure that the prospect has to you through the content marketing builds a relationship that provides multiple conversion attempts, rather than the “one and done” sales approach. A successful Content Marketing program starts with a Content Marketing Plan
Using Blogs to Market Content
So why is this term becoming so popular now? Because in the past, in order to get your content in front of prospects, you had to get past the “Gate-keepters”. Those people of power that determined which articles were going to run in a magazine, what presentations to offer at the trade show, or what programs to run on television. If you could not convince the gate-keeper of the very valuable and non-commercial nature of your content, you’re only other option was to buy time and space; as an advertorial or an infomercial. Unfortunately the costs of these placements were very expensive – probably because the media people knew the value of being able to reach the masses with information and education tips that will help them decide to buy your products. Yet still people bought ad space, and infomercials kept us eertained in the wee hours of the morning.
Enter the blog – The web-log allowed any of us with a small amount of technical knowledge to create a content message and publish it online. Blogs use a WYSIWYG editor for adding or editing content, and then convert the editor text to HTML code that a browser uses. Images could be added to show specific details that could not be easily relayed in words. Eventually videos could be embedded to provide companies a way to efficiently promote their products and benefits in the shortest time possible. Even back in 2000, the impact of using videos in marketing was becoming well known and now anyone with an Internet connection could publish videos of their product in operation, show how to best utilize a product to solve a problem, or explain the minutia differences between their company’s products and the “other people’s”. Blogs removed the barriers to entry for content marketing and now everyone can build their own soap-box and rave about their products, opinions, likes / dislikes,
Blogs also enabled people to subscribe to the content feed, using RSS Feeds, so that when new content was added to the blog, they could receive an e-mail or the content would be automatically added to their “reader” – kind of a digital newspaper, so they could go to one website and see the latest articles from all the blogs they were interested in. Social media has also helped promote Content Marketing, as people will share, tweet and promote content to their connections in the social media world.
How to Optimize Your Content Marketing
Optimize your content marketing with a Content Marketing Plan that includes the goals of the Content Marketing efforts, an overview of Content categories to publish, a calendar of publishing Content Marketing, and the various channels to promote your content.
What is the Goal of the content?
If you are blogging for professional reasons, you ill want to make sure that every content piece drives to a Call-To-Action, that is a make sure you provide a way to allow the reader to progress further down the sales path. At the minimum there should be a phone number of e-mail address so they could contact you. Ideally, you would like to include a Call-To-Action that can be measured and adjusted, such as a link for more information, or a down-loadable ebook.
What Content to Publish?
There are events in every business that occur on an annual basis: Trade Shows, New Product Roll-outs, Seasonal Changes, and my favorite, Technology Changes. Look at the calendar and determine when these events will occur. Then write the content describing the event, the impact it has on your readers, I’ll say that again for emphasis – The impact it has on your readers. That means that your content must solve a problem that your readers care about, or entertain them, or both. If the event does not affect yo target audience, you should probably have a discussion at your company about why you are doing, or talking about, this event.
How often to Publish Content?
Your frequency of content really depends upon your audience, and the value of the content you are offering. I generally recommend that each event should have three phases -Tell the audience what is going to happen, tell them what is happening, and tell them what did happen. So write about the event before it happens, then write about the event as it is happening, building on the energy of participants, finally write a summary of the event, including any photos or videos from the event.
How to maximize your Content Marketing?
For each of these phases, there should be an appropriate Call-To-Action. i.e. if there is a new technology coming, tell them about the problem that exists that this technology will solve and why it is so exciting, then provide them a way to sign-up to receive the latest updates as they develop. Once the technology is launched, write about initial reactions to it, and give the reader an option to provide their own feedback or assess how the technology could impact their business. Once initial results of the technology implementations are in, write about the validation of the solutions it provides, and offer readers a chance to see a demonstration of the technology first-hand. Determine a way to measure and track the Call-To-Actions, and be prepared to adjust the content or messages to improve the conversions of the readers.
How to Promote Your Content?
Your content platform should include a way for your visitors to share the content with their social media connections, as well as a way to subscribe to the content so they can keep informed as new content is published. You will need to evaluate your audience to determine what is the best method of promoting your content to them. As content is publish, update your Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter feeds, promote through technocrati or other article submission sites, include in a monthly e-mail newsletter, and submit to online PR sites. Make sure that all of these promotions direct people back to your website for more information and to take action. Evaluate the promotional channels by monitoring the traffic to your website,