In today’s world of competing priorities, it’s no surprise that the marketing budget of most companies is being pulled in different directions. Content marketing is gaining popularity as a tool to increase business. When done well, it is a valuable use of advertising dollars.

Successful businesses know that before a customer parts with their hard-earned cash they need to know something about what they are buying. Traditionally, businesses would build a customer base through advertising in print, radio or TV. This was great to enhance brand recognition, but customers began to want more information before making a purchase. This need for information helped pave the way for content marketing to make a splash.

Many businesses are reducing their traditional advertising budget and opting to put time and money into content marketing. This relatively new style of marketing is tipped by many to be the main driver of future sales, and it involves a lot more than simply advertising your business.

What is content marketing?

Content marketing is about creating and distributing content that is valuable and relevant, and getting that content to a clearly defined audience. The ultimate goal is to drive profitable customer action. How is this different to any kind of advertising? Content marketing has a big focus on value, and providing value to customers rather than just talking about what you do as a business. Content can be anything from articles, blogs, white papers and ebooks. It can also include infographics, videos, podcasts, apps, public speaking and books.

Author, entrepreneur and social media master, Gary Vaynerchuk, describes content marketing as a “jab, jab, jab, right hook” kind of arrangement, which loosely translates to a “give, give, give, ask” situation. What does it look like? Giving great quality content to your potential customers and then asking them to trust you with their contact details (and later encouraging them to buy from you).

The return on investment of content marketing can be seen in two very important ways. Firstly, it helps grow your profile and brand in an organic away. Secondly, and not to be underestimated, it creates a way for you to build a contact database allowing for direct communication with your intended customers.

The art and science of content marketing

Great content marketing falls somewhere between an art and a science – some have described it as a craft. Like any craft, there is a certain level of skill to getting it right. It involves both creative and analytical thought. Experts have carved careers in helping businesses manage their content marketing, so don’t expect to tack it on to your daily workload and be a master straight away.

Well constructed content should make people want to give you something in return, such as their contact details. There are many different content marketing strategies, all designed to eventually increase business sales. A common and extremely successful strategy involves the business solving a pain point for a typical customer through the information they provide in a series of short articles available on their website. They would then have a longer-form white paper or ebook available for download when the customer provides their contact details. This aligns perfectly with the give, give, give, ask strategy and is an effective way of building an audience who will later become customers.

When people can see value in the content you have offered them for free, they are more open to giving you something in return (an email address, for example). Don’t underestimate the unwillingness of potential customers to part with their personal information – you need to make it worth their while.

Why give away information?

Along with the ability to build your customer database, providing quality content to your potential customers ensures your business remains in their attention when they are looking for it. Unlike traditional advertising, that is thrust upon a customer when the business dictates, content marketing materials are often sought out by potential customers as they look to solve a problem. These people are much more receptive to learning about what your brand has to offer.

Content marketing is an upfront investment to cultivate an audience of willing customers. Your audience are not true customers until they buy something from you, but a well executed content marketing strategy allows you to shape your audience into engaged, trusting and interested potential buyers. When a content marketing strategy is done well, your brand is immediately front of mind when your audience is ready to make a purchase.

Want a more in-depth understanding of content marketing?

Download our ebook, Content Marketing: The Key To Business Growth, and learn the fundamental concepts of content marketing and the ways it can be used to accelerate your business’s growth.

Content Marketing Ebook