The term Content Marketing is relatively new, but the concept has been around since the dawn of commerce. Content marketing is simply using information strategically to communicate with your market. What has changed since the first messaging merchants is the complexity and scope of that communication and its delivery. Here are five reasons why you should be taking a structured approach to your content marketing.
1. Myriad Touchpoints
The ad guys in Mad Men had it comparatively easy; they could focus on a killer ad campaign knowing that a high percentage of their market would absorb their newspaper, TV and radio ads. Since the halcyon days when a campaign brainstorming required a brain-numbing amount of whisky, the Internet has given the information and communication world a whole new environment. This new landscape is vast, cluttered and omnipresent.
A minority of small companies are treating their websites as strategic communication hubs (unfortunately most are still virtual brochures with a link to their dormant Facebook page). And even if you are paying attention to your website, simply keeping it up-to-date isn’t sufficient. Blogs, online communities, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+… there are myriad touchpoints where your existing and potential market could connect with you. A strategic content marketing plan will determine which are best for your company and what needs to be done to properly support them.
2. Consumers Want More Info
The Internet has empowered consumers like never before. They now expect to easily find online all required info about any product or service, as well as reviews, user comments, instructions, how-to videos… in essence they want it all and they want it now. A strategic plan helps you to determine how you can most effectively provide that information in a compelling way.
Early advertising guru David Ogilvy understood the importance of content marketing. He maintained that “(t)he more informative your advertising, the more persuasive it will be.” Ogilvy helped the industry to appreciate the value of understanding your market and providing the right information in an appropriate manner. And even in those simpler times, this Mad Man realized that “Every advertisement should be thought of as a contribution to the complex symbol which is the brand image.” The fact that the communications and marketing world has become all the more complex underlines the importance of Ogilvy’s insight.
3.Open Lines of Communication
In addition to providing you with countless ways to connect with your market, social media and blogs also enable a two-way communication. This may seem daunting but it can be an incredible opportunity. A dialogue with consumers is a direct means to learn from your market and gather valuable information.
Ensure that the bulk of information about your organization online is under corporate stewardship.
4. Your Brand is Linked to Your Content
While you are putting good content out there, it is important to also listen to what is being said about you. Scanning the web for mentions and responding swiftly and appropriately has become an important aspect of brand stewardship. Whether you are thanking someone for kind words or a helpful suggestion, or addressing a misperception or mistake; dealing with it publicly and honestly helps you earn loyalty.
Essentially, it all reflects on you (or your organization if you really don’t want to take this personally). I believe that a company’s brand is now formed as much by the unofficial and/or unpaid content online as it is by the paid media and carefully crafted PR. Online, everyone hears you scream — the Internet hears everything said about your company and saves it for anyone to read. Your brand is living 24/7 online and you are probably unaware as to how it’s doing.
5. Much of the Content Online is Crap
This proliferation of information on the Internet has bred a lot of poorly researched, badly written and pathetically self-serving crap. (Yes, yes, there is also a ton of really good content, but be honest, when you research a purchase online, what percentage of the information is both helpful and well-written?) So users need to sift through the garbage to find what they are looking for. If you’re churning out less than stellar material, you could be doing more harm than good and actually tarnish your brand.
Conversely, if you are actually producing relevant and readable material, you can help to define your brand as trustworthy and a valued online resource. This positioning moves you a whole lot closer to a buying relationship.
Writing compelling content is not easy, heck, just writing good informative content is challenging. With professional guidance, a strategic plan determines what content you should be producing, what you should be writing, what your staff can do, and what professional marketers/writers should create for you, as well as a schedule to make sure it actually happens. And this structured process makes it much easier to deliver good content.
What would you add to my list of reasons to approach content marketing in a professional manner?