Social connectivity has genetically mutated the sales and marketing universe. But it’s the good kind of mutation. Much like how Peter Parker inherited the strengths of an arachnid after he was bitten by a radioactive spider.
Marketers around the world have been bitten by smart phones, 24/7 connectivity, and on-demand content consumption. Do you feel the superhuman strength yet?
You’re probably aware of its power. You hear people talk about it. You see Facebook’s valuation of $100 billion and you know its real. But it’s not always so clear what to do with that power.
That’s where the advice of Spidey’s Uncle Ben comes in handy: “With great power comes great responsibility.” To marketers, that responsibility comes in the form of understanding that in today’s world traditional selling doesn’t work very well. Giving does. Giving is the new selling. And the Internet makes giving easier than ever before.
Marketers have named this new form of online giving: it’s called content marketing. And the key to success in the digital realm is effective content marketing.
Without it, all the SEO, LinkedIn connections, and Tweets in the world won’t do a thing for you. A fancy webpage, a #1 ranking on Google; they’re just pieces of a large puzzle. Content marketing is the glue that makes things stick.
What is Content Marketing?
An attempt to sell me insults my intelligence and wastes my time. Think about it; do you like to be sold? News flash – nobody does. Now ask yourself this question, do you like to be helped? Most reasonable people do. The difference between the two positions, while subtle, is very meaningful. – Mike Myatt, writer for Forbes Magazine
Content marketers are the Superheroes of the Internet. They solve problems and dole out useful insights and advice…for free. And their superpowers are a combination of three things: content creation, content curation, and content distribution.
What we are talking about here is 100% unique content. It can be in the form of: blogs, Tweets, Facebook posts, videos, white papers, eBooks, podcasts, webinars, case studies, etc.
Make sure the content is timely or relevant or funny or insightful…basically it has to be worthy of your target audience’s time. But most of all, make sure your content is genuinely helpful, covering topics your audience wants to know about. How do you determine what these topics are? It all comes down to figuring out what information your target audience searches for online, and how they ask for it…so you can be there to provide exactly what they want, exactly when they want it! When we develop content creation plans with our clients, we perform the following research and analysis:
- Jointly brainstorm topics of interest to the client’s target market.
- Monitor online conversations on multiple social platforms and media channels to qualitatively test and refine the topics list and identify ideal industry jargon.
- Use Google’s Keyword Tool to quantitatively test and refine the topics list based on actual keyword search volume and keyword difficulty/competition, and to access Google’s suggestions for closely related search terminology.
If you design websites, for example, you might write a blog post entitled ”10 easy ways to increase your website traffic” – an article that website owners, likely searching online for ways to increase their web traffic, would find useful. If they like your stuff then you’re on the fast track to building a rapport and their trust – which makes it likely that when they need a service/product like yours, they’ll go to you first…we call these “inbound leads”!
Content Marketing in the flesh
This very blog post is another example. You’re likely reading this blog because you are a business owner or marketing professional looking for ways to grow your business (or you’re just a really big Spider-Man fan). If the information we provide here and in other content helps you execute your online marketing more effectively, we are glad to help. For those who now understand the power of content marketing more clearly and want to speak with a marketing firm about an inbound marketing execution plan, our phone lines are open.
How does all this content get written? That varies by company. In some companies, all content is written by owners and staff, allocated by areas of specific expertise. In other companies, some or all content is outsourced either to paid industry experts or professional writers.
The beauty of content marketing is that not every piece of content you disseminate has to be unique. You don’t have to spend every waking hour writing perfect blog posts or piecing together eBooks. Content curation is an inbound marketing best practice, enabling you to supplement unique content with valuable content from other sources…along with your own commentary.
Because the truth is, not everything “you” have to say is pure gold. The creative gears can’t churn 24/7, but the collective creative output of Internet content generators are constantly pumping out great stuff.
There are even several content curation platform providers out there:
- Pearltrees – A place to collect, organize, discover and share everything you like on the web.
- Scoop.it – Easily Publish Gorgeous Magazines. Leverage Curation to increase your visibility. Give persistence to your social media presence.
- Curata – A content curation and online marketing solution
- feedly – A news reader for creative minds, a simple and elegant way to read and share the content of your favorite sites.
There are many different platforms you can use to distribute content. The key is to choose those that pack the most punch for your specific business and industry. If you run a B2B consulting firm then posting a slide deck to slideshare or your blog to LinkedIn makes most sense. If you sell visually appealing products, Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook make sense. There are endless channels, each with highly active audiences. Again, who is your target and where do they spend time online? Answer that question and you’ll find success.
It’s hard to keep track of when to post what and where, but a good content marketer plans ahead. Editorial calendars are a best practice.
Content Marketing is here to stay
Content marketing is a vehicle for companies to establish trust in their brand and in individuals representing their brand. That’s not anything new, but now thanks to the Internet, it’s now a tactic anyone can employ. And it’s working very well for those doing it. Some specific BtoB content marketing stats:
- 9 out of 10 marketers are using content marketing to grow their businesses.
- Content marketing uptake is high across industries, with no single industry reporting below 70% adoption.
- Marketers, on average, spend over 25% of their marketing budget on content marketing.
- Companies are generating higher-quality + more targeted leads than from traditional ad spend
- Brands are having more success engaging consumers with content marketing instead of scaring them away with forced “salesy” media
The Huffington Post is on board
The most recent sign that content marketing is taking businesses by storm: The Huffington Post announced their intent to work with ad agencies and marketers “to help them build branded websites and assist in the creation, curation and distribution of content to brands’ key consumers.”
Execs at AOL Advertising said the publisher [Huff Post] created the new service to keep up with the evolving marketplace where brands are becoming more and more aware of the benefits of producing and sharing strong content. Sound familiar?
Those of us in the content curation world have been talking about the benefits of timely, relevant content for a while now and it’s great to see yet another major name get behind the growing cause. From Coca Cola and The Big Apple Circus to Curata customers like the Yankee Group and Connance, brands get it…and so do the whopping 95% of marketers that had curated content in the past six months in our recent Content Curation Adoption Survey.