Long gone are the days when marketing to customers was as simple as suggesting that they buy your product.
Decades of overt tactics using television and internet have dulled the interest of potential consumers, making it harder than ever to rely on previous methods. Even steps such as creating a blog or social media page alone cannot guarantee prolonged interest in what you have to say. How then are companies expected to build a connection with their would-be consumer base?
Businesses are increasingly relying on content marketing to achieve desired results.
What Is Content Marketing?
Ever heard of the “art of fighting without fighting?” Consider content marketing the art of selling without making it seem like a sale is your goal. In place of the sales pitch is the desire to help consumers solve problems and learn useful information.
The use of content that can educate customers or aid them in making their life easier is found to achieve two very important goals. First, it allows the business to develop a positive rapport with the individual. Second, it allows a business to be viewed in a more trustworthy and helpful light.
Content marketing helps customers to feel like they aren’t being manipulated, a sentiment that can actually encourage them to engage with a company’s brand. If you wish to make use of this form of marketing, consider one of the following six steps to make this approach work for you.
Have A Plan
Before you can begin to share content with consumers, you should first and foremost come up with a strategy.
Will your content be digital (infographics) or physical (calendars)? How much will content marketing cost and what is the appropriate budget? Knowing what you intend to do and having a plan of action well in advance will help your content marketing strategy achieve a greater amount of success than taking a “wait-and-see” approach. Write down your strategies, as this is more likely to encourage successful outcomes than simply verbalizing your goals.
Know Your Audience
If your product is meant for a specific target audience, it does NOT make sense to take a more generalized approach.
Take into consideration the case of Deere & Company, a name is forever associated with the agricultural industry. This company created The Furrow, a magazine dedicated to educating farmers about the best methods of farming and achieving financial success. First published in 1895, it is widely considered one of the first documented methods of content marketing.
Imagine if this company had released a general magazine that offered information, but didn’t specifically reach out to farmers. It’s very likely that the magazine and company would not be around today.
Keep New Content Coming
If you want to maintain the interest of your chosen audience, consider content marketing a permanent business strategy. Develop an emphasis on consistently brainstorming new ideas to push your content to the next level.
An example of evolutionary content marketing can be seen in this piece of timely content created by CJ Pony Parts. Because of their always evolving industry, the company frequently updates their 2015 mustang page with relevant information for consumers and enthusiasts alike.
If customers feel that you are an industry leader that will help them stay informed, they will return to you for insight.
Use Social Media (The Right Way)
Certain myths about social media have caused businesses to grossly misuse related sites while trying to increase their consumer base.
Instead of simply tweeting out ads about your company, you should make your Twitter an interactive experience. Did you know that simply sharing images can greatly increase your visibility? Just ask Arby’s. Their tweet about Pharrell Williams led to a major pop culture moment.
Make sure that you are paying attention to what social media participants are discussing and be ready to jump in with relevant — and tasteful — commentary.
Consider Teaming Up
When the brown M&M made an impassioned demand for quality insurance, was anyone expecting to see the Geico gecko?
This example demonstrates that it’s possible to work together with other companies to indirectly advertise multiple products, a form of marketing known as product placement. Companies that work together to create mutually beneficial content may find that they’ve managed to double their potential pool of customers.
Get Constant Feedback
It’s important to listen to what your customers are saying. Are they happy with your content? Are there things they feel could be better? Do not be afraid to listen and apply suggestions. When customers feel understood and listened to, they are more likely to continue to interact with and support a business.
Content marketing strategies require companies to abandon an approach that asks what customers can do for their business. Instead, businesses must think long and hard about what they can do for potential customers.