There are many definitions of what content marketing is. I see it as creating unique content and distributing it to engage your audience. It's a long-term marketing strategy - it's about building up a regular conversation with your audience, leading to trust in your brand and ultimately, should reward you with loyal customers. The keyword is conversation - and it should work both ways.
In previous posts, we've talked about being authentic and telling a story. For me, those are the two cornerstones of content marketing. Every brand has a story to tell - about its products (or service), how it's sourced, provenance and heritage, how it impacts on its consumers' everyday lives.
Consumers will have their own stories to tell - I think that when this is tapped into in the correct way, it can be really powerful. Apple do this with a few of their products; the iPad in particular. Promoting the use of it in education, these give real-life examples of how the product can work in various situations so that other consumers can relate and be inspired.
Recent studies have shown that thought leadership is now viewed as a priority for b2b brands in order to increase their reach. Sharing your expertise and knowledge can have a big impact, for both our b2b and premium consumer clients - it's about positioning your brand as authoritative and making your consumers feel inspired and empowered.
Here are my three top tips for creating content - it's about what you say, who you say it to and where and when you say it.
Make it count - to have an impact, your content needs to be relevant and have value for your consumers. You're taking up their time - not by interrupting them (e.g advertising) and overtly selling, but by sharing information that will make a difference to them. It needs to be emotionally engaging, whether that's through entertainment or insight - don't do it for the sake of it, as your audience will see through this.
Focus on your audience - identify a core group you want to talk to, this isn't mass communication, but engaging and providing useful content to a specific audience.
Use different mediums - the same story can be adapted in different ways. Think about your audience and how they will want to consume it - is it digital, print, or social or a combination of all three? Social can be great for starting a dialogue, and getting your consumers to be part of the story, which can then be combined with digital and print to give the full story.
The idea of content marketing can seem daunting at first. However, the likelihood is that you are already doing this in some way, such as through a blog. Start by thinking of it as initiating a regular conversation that will engage people while keeping them updated about your offer, perhaps through your social media channels. See how this goes, and build up towards implementing a content marketing strategy - it will drive brand loyalty and through feedback, will improve your offer.