You’ve probably heard the word Content bandied around a lot — Content Marketing, Content Strategy and Content Creation. The terms all tie together, so here’s an explanation of each term.
Content Marketing – A program that centers on creating, publishing and distributing meaningful, helpful information for your target audiences, on a regular basis, with the goal of attracting new customers.
Content Strategy – The big-picture overview of the content you plan to create and deliver in an effort to accomplish your goals. It identifies the right content to develop for the right buyers at the right time.
Content Creation – The development of content in every form, such as email campaigns, one-to-one email messaging, blog posts, e-books, social media posts, videos and infographics.
Ever notice that some of the content you receive from companies hoping to do business with you seems random? Ever receive unsolicited, lengthy promotional emails and documents? If so, it means the content creators skipped over the all-important discussion of strategy and jumped into the creating part. They created watered-down content with the belief it would be of interest to everyone on their list of potential buyers. They also focused on promoting their brand and products – which is the opposite of what marketers should do.
To reach, engage and ultimately convert potential buyers into customers, you have to start by creating and offering content they want and need. You need to understand what they want to read as well as how and where they want to read it. Your content needs to explain why the buyer needs what you offer.
Here’s an example. Let’s say you manage an accounting firm and one of this year’s business goals is to boost the tax preparation business. You decide to add a blog to your website and begin publishing several posts a month on tax-related issues your target customer faces.
Eventually, your posts start to rank in the search engines. So when tax season rolls around and people are searching online for answers to their tax questions, some find their way to your website. While a few of these people will keep doing their own tax preparation (maybe they like pulling their hair out), others may decide to contact your firm and explore the possibility of working together.
When companies focus on what their targeted audiences want and need, they are able to generate more qualified leads than if they pursue the masses. This Inbound Marketing approach — vs. mailing expensive brochures or hiring a telemarketing company to go after “suspects” in a certain geographic area – is proven to generate results.
Stop selling. Start educating.
Your prospects have problems. You have solutions. But the old-fashioned way of generating sales – pushing products and services – no longer works.
The process of attracting buyers, of converting them from site visitors to leads to customers, takes time. Buyers expect to be educated and enlightened. They are in control. They want resources like case studies, videos, white papers and blogs to better understand how to solve their problem. The material you provide – the content – needs to speak to their specific needs and wants. Not yours.
An effective Content Marketing program includes:
Studies show that educational content significantly influences buyers. Companies that put customers first and create meaningful content will have a big impact on whether customers opt to move through the buying process.