Inside: Content Marketing – Promoting Without Promoting

(Ping! Zine Issue 56) – Content marketing is so often overlooked as a means for marketing your website. Many small to medium sized businesses don’t fully understand content marketing. Therefor a lot of their content gets ignored or seen as spam. Nowadays every business needs to pay close attention to content marketing. You may have heard it called one of the following: custom media, custom publishing, customer publishing, customer media, member media, corporate media, private media, branded content, corporate publishing, branded media and corporate journalism.

Earlier in this article I stated that traditional advertising is dwindling. Why is this? Simply put, people don’t like when you hard sell them product after product. Chances are you will just annoy the customer if you’re bombarding your clients with sales pitch after sales pitch; you need to provide value in order for them to buy from you. This is a great way to come off as a spammer, which could have lots of negative repercussions on your company or business. So this is where content marketing comes in. This is not a new concept. It’s been used for over a century and if you aren’t utilizing it correctly you need to start now.

In order to start utilizing content marketing correctly you need to keep one simple thing in mind; you have to provide highly valuable content to your clients without suggesting any products or services. This creates more client loyalty. More loyalty will get more trust, and trust equals more conversions. Don’t come off as a used car salesman or overly pushy and provide highly valuable content. A lot of companies do not understand this and you can’t just cram your ads down your client’s throat and expect them to turn into loyal customers. This is the fundamental behind content marketing in a nutshell.
Content marketing can come in various methods. Be creative and really think what the customer wants to know. When I say content marketing it doesn’t just mean you have to have high quality articles that are solely content rich. In fact, it’s a widely known fact that when people browse the internet they don’t read, they skim. There is so much data available on the internet that people are prone to skimming and if you don’t offer something insightful they will just continue their search elsewhere. Your content marketing needs to stick out from the same old same old and there are many great ways to do it.

Means of Content Marketing
Sure, great content and articles are one way to do content marketing, but there are so many more effective ways to utilize it. Here is a list of effective ways to go about content marketing:

• Infographics – These are great because you could take a well written article and turn it into a graphic. They are visually appealing and take lots of data with graphics and typically have a number of snippets of information that the reader can easily view. Case studies, bar charts, and diagrams are the best way to convey your message and put together an effective infographic.

• Videos – Articles can be turned into videos as a lot of visitors online would prefer watching a video rather than reading a 3,000 word article. If you are going to have a lengthy article make sure you make it into a couple parts. Many businesses use videos to show “how to” videos which have been proven to be very effective in building business to customer trust. Simply put, if I run a business that sells live reptile food and I want to promote it through content marketing, a good way to go about is make a video about raising crickets, mealworms, superworms, etc. At no where would my video say buy product A here. The video would have a link to my business’s website.

Along with videos, a lot of companies are utilizing video seminars which are fully hands on. This means you address customers problems and show detailed walkthroughs on how to do something. In order to encourage your visitors, it’s a good idea to have a part to your seminars which addresses and questions that people might have relating to your seminar.

• eBook and Brochures – Imagine your potential customers reaction when you give them a valuable eBook or brochure on related material to your products or services. For instance, Jello comes up with a brochure or recipe guide every year that is just a list of recipes that include their products. By showing someone exactly how to make something, you’re indirectly telling or providing a need for your product. When you provide them with these awesome recipes that they are dying to try, they simply convert into loyal customers.

• Newsletter – A creative and fun newsletter can go a long way with content marketing. People like to see news, relevant articles, interviews, almost anything you can think of that relates to your product. It’s been said that a buyer online doesn’t buy something until you have visited the merchant’s site at least 7 times. By constantly updating your newsletter with creative and colorful content, you’ll be more likely to gain your clients trust easier. Ideas could range from FAQ’s, survey data, powerful images, “how to’s” or anything else you can dream up.

If you don’t have the budget or funds to do a printed newsletter, it’s easy to set up an email newsletter, create a digital one, or simply ask that people subscribe to your rss feed with a special area with exclusive content. Providing something 100% free to your clients is one of the greatest ways to give them the incentive to become a loyal customer.

• Social Media – With the development of Facebook, Twitter, Google +, etc. you should actively be seeking out people on social sites. This is where people discuss products, share content and interact with each other online. A powerful way to market yourself online is by sharing related content that relates to your market. Don’t make the mistake of just sharing your content, but share 70-80% of others as well. If time is an issue there are companies that specialize in maintaining and establishing a social presence on various social media websites.

With social media, you can also seek out partnerships, network, and run giveaways in order to get your brand out there in front of millions of people. An example of this would be running a giveaway for a hot gadget and in order to win you would have to “like”, “retweet”, or sign up to your free newsletter to enter your giveaway.

In conclusion, in order to use content marketing online, we have to provide value on our websites. The customer comes first and it’s not all about a hard sale. Marketing is changing online and people are getting more apprehensive to trust a company or business online. By providing useful, valuable content you are building trust. If you focus on building trust and rock solid content, your business will benefit from the uses of content marketing. Lastly, we must measure our ROI and find out what works for our business in terms of content marketing.