You’ve probably heard the term content marketing hundreds, if not thousands of times. But, you still don’t have a solid grip on what is content marketing. You might understand the term but have no idea of why it’s important for your business or where to start.
As a small business owner, your time is already stretched, not to mention your marketing budget. Having to invest in yet another marketing tactic seems pointless or is added to the to-do list for another day.
As someone who creates a ton of content each month, I can confirm that content marketing done right can transform your business. It can help you attract and educate your dream type of client, reduce some friction in the selling process, and position you as the expert in your field.
Let’s explore what is content marketing and why it’s important for your business.
How the Content Marketing Institute defines the topic
Just so we’re on the same page, we’ll start with the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) definition as they are the world’s foremost education and training organization for content marketers.
They define content marketing as:
Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
Let’s break their definition down
The first word that grabs my attention is strategic. All businesses are experts at least one skill, yet most lack a strategic approach to planning and marketing. And as an ecommerce marketing coaching, I love devising actionable plans that make a difference to businesses.
The next phrase that jumps out is: creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content. There’s a lot to cover in this part.
Creating content: Most small business owners think this means written content such as articles or a blog. However, the term content covers much more than writing. It includes videos, live Q&A, Events, and Podcasts.
Distributing content: With over 600 million blogs online, you can’t afford to take a “publish and pray” approach. You need to get your content in front of potential clients.
Relevant: As much as I love dogs (and I do), creating lots of content about them for your business’s website isn’t going to drive prospects to it. So unless you can find a way to use your office dog to communicate your products and services, don’t blog about them.
Consistent: A fable I often talk about with clients is The Tortoise and the Hare. I won’t bore you with here. However, the central message of being consistent is critical to business success. In content marketing, consistency is about having an editorial calendar that you stick to.
Attracting a clearly defined audience: If you’re not targeting a certain group of people, you’re talking to yourself! You need a tribe of like-minded people to be customers that you can speak their language, building trust.
Retaining an audience: It’s far easier to get customers to return and use content to drive them to purchase again than go out and find a new group of people.
Drive profitable customer action: With content marketing, you can build trust quicker as your business has an active voice that is consistently talking to prospects. Greater trust means people will more easily convert into customers with less friction or conditions.
Who is your audience?
Without going too deep as niche selection is a massive topic within itself, you should have a good idea of who your audience is. Part of understanding what is content marketing is knowing who your ideal customer is.
If you run a garage, do you specialize in repairing one brand or type of car? If you only deal with Ford, BMW, or British supercars (Bentley, Aston Martin, Rolls Royce, etc.), it’s easier to find your client and learn to talk in their language.
You can always reverse engineer the process if you already have a sizeable client base. Look over your client list and ask yourself the following:
- Who has been the easiest to work with?
- Which clients were the most profitable?
- What jobs did you enjoy doing?
- Did you hate any job or client?
With a list of what you enjoyed doing, you can start to refocus your business around these sorts of clients. Even a list of things you hated doing is useful, as you can make an effort to avoid them!
Over time, you can continue to refine what you like, hate, and who you enjoy working with.
What content to create?
One of the biggest myths surrounding content marketing is that you can only produce written work. It’s just not true. When you understand who’s in your audience, you can figure out the best medium to reach them.
Content types you could create:
Under each of these, you could expand it with another list of types. For example, under Video, you could write short videos, live Videos, and mini-documentaries.
By having a clear idea of who you’re targeting, you can ask them what types of content they want, how often they want new pieces, and where is best to release them.
You might find that your business by default works better with one type of content over another. Imagine buying a home that you only read a description of. You’d want to see photos before booking a viewing.
Another example, no one will read a thousand-word article about changing car oil. Instead, they will watch a 5- or 10-minute video that explains how to change the oil on their model, step by step.
If you’re unsure what medium works best, talk with your customers and test different options. Don’t automatically default to your preferred option as this might not be what your audience wants.
When should I create content?
As consistency is king, it’s best to set a publishing schedule that works within your current constraints. Some will release a new piece of content monthly, others weekly, a few will publish something daily or a few times each week.
What matters is that you have enough time to invest in creating content regularly to ensure you stay consistent. If you’re releasing a video each week, the process might take eight hours. During this time, you’ll need to develop a concept, film footage, and edit it.
A blog post or article might take two or three hours to write. You might need three hours to record and edit a podcast. So you’ll need to find this time in your already packed schedule.
To remain consistent, you need to build this task into your weekly schedule to ensure it always gets done and that you don’t get left behind. If all you can do is release a new piece of content monthly, stick to that plan but make it the best content you can.
How should I distribute content?
Depending on the type of content you’re producing, you should naturally find one or more ways to push it out there. If you’re creating long-form videos, for example, you could upload them to YouTube and Facebook, and even LinkedIn if your customers live there.
If you’re writing a blog, you can distribute it on your social pages, using an email newsletter, building links from existing articles, and having a list of the latest articles on your home page.
For podcasts, there are hundreds of podcast directories that help you promote your show.
The secret with distribution is to go where your target audience hangs out, whether that’s Instagram, Tik-Tok, Snapchat, or YouTube. You don’t want to waste money on channels they don’t use or where you can’t drive engagement.
Why consistency matters
Let’s just try a little fun game. If I say ketchup, you probably think of Heinz. How about Vodka? A shot of Grey Goose anyone?! Final one. Wimbledon? You likely think of tennis.
None of these brands were created in a week. They only became household names with the consistent application of a good strategy. Content marketing works the same way.
I encourage my clients to set a bare minimum content release calendar. Knowing what you have to do (i.e. bare minimum) creates the environment that makes it more likely to happen.
If you take a haphazard approach, your results will be equally random. So it’s important to set a schedule from the start and work hard to create the framework that makes it possible.
Another benefit of consistency is your audience will be waiting for you to release new content. And it’s much easier to sell to a captive audience who trusts you.
How to stay relevant!
Part of understanding what is content marketing involves realizing you need to stay relevant to your customer. If you don’t, they’ll find another company that speaks to them.
The best way to stay relevant is to talk to your customer. Ask them what problems they struggle with that you can solve. Consider how you can be so helpful, you become indispensable to them.
Over time, you’ll learn their language, pain points, and frustration. These are great for coming up with content ideas. And, of course, building a more customer-centric business.
The moment you assume you know everything is the time when the competition will start to steal your lunch. Before you realize it, your clients will jump ship, leaving you with little. So listen to your clients and others in your industry and try to learn as much as possible.
Start by understanding what is content marketing
Now you know what is content marketing, you can begin to plan a better strategy that connects with your customers and prospects. To recap:
- Who does your business target?
- Where do they live online?
- What type of content are they looking for?
- How often can you produce content?
- Can you turn your client’s frustrations or questions into content?
- Build the right framework to make creating content easier
- Focus on being consistent.
Last month Izabela saw her search traffic from Google increase by 400% using 3 SEO tips we taught her.
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