Examining the Essentials of Content Marketing

There are plenty of times when one person's villain is another's hero, and the same concept can be applied to content marketing: one person's advertising is another's indispensable reading material. The goal for your small business content is to make sure that what you write, read or say to your potential customer through content aligns with the latter. [caption id="attachment_3276" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Content Marketing Cycle The Cycle of Content Marketing - Source: Ingrid Archer[/caption] Best case scenario? Content marketing is an approach that provides a reader, viewer or visitor with compelling content, while raising brand recognition (and hopefully sales) for advertisers. Everyone's happy, all parties win. With the worst outcome, however, unappreciated content can have exactly the opposite effect. It can be seen as intrusive or exploitative, foster dislike among otherwise accepting visitors, and turn away potential sales if buyers feel confused or misled. So how do you walk the right line towards "everyone's a winner" content, without accidentally straying into content marketing hell? These tips will guide you to developing quality content that wins readers trust and feeds into the overall goals of your wider marketing campaign:
  • Make it Great! There's too much media out there and too little time for customers to consume it. Now that you're part of that ecosystem you can't afford to waste their time. Content must be one - or all! - of three things: i) compelling, ii) entertaining, or iii) informative. Hit some combination of all three  and you're well on the way to breaking through the attention deficit.
  • Respect the Royalty - You've probably heard that content is king,  but that fails to acknowledge the rest of the royal family. Content can't rule all alone and it takes the queen of distribution to keep your content in front of the people you need to read it. By the same logic, princely platforms like social networks, search engine visibility, email alerts to new articles, and sharing buttons all allow early readers to receive and help spread your content. Valuable as the best content is, it won't rise to the top without that initial push that you need to impart.
  • Great Marketing Can't Cover a Bad Product - Marketing can tell any story you want about a product or service, but a dog is still a dog. What you're selling must be good preferably great, and deliver as much or more than your marketing says it does. First spend time making sure what you sell delivers, then (and only then) invest the money, time and effort to talk it up.
  • Take Your Time - As you need to build a relationship with consumers - your "audience" - across many pieces of content, it accordingly takes time for what you create or write to be recognized. Whether that's by regular readers or the search engines that can bring them to you, it may be a while before you boost your presence on search engines and traffic levels. It comes down to engagement and trust, which in almost every case takes time to build and convert into sales. Hit that conversion point, though, and you have an investment that yields a satisfying return, again and again.
Whatever media your marketing campaign makes use of, these tips should apply to all occasions. While they are essentially common sense - a quality frequently forgotten when shiny new ad platforms emerge - these are the ideas that keep your content appealing and relevant, not off-putting and unrelatable to customers. What successes has your business had with outstanding content this year? What will you avoid in 2015? Let us know on Facebook or Linkedin.

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