Stop what you’re doing right now and read this article: A Top LinkedIn Exec on Why Content Marketing Matters More Then Ever. (I’m serious. Stop and read it. What the writer has to say is that important.)
The opening paragraph states that, “[T]here’s been a real transformation in the way people consume information and communicate. Fueled by the mass adoption of social platforms, this transformation in consumer behavior demands that the ways we market also evolve. This is especially true in business-to-business where brands compete in a content-flooded environment with countless information sources to capture buyers’ attention.”
The Content Marketing Imperative
Thanks to social media, everyone has a voice. Very likely, there’s a conversation taking place somewhere in social media about your business, its products and services – or, at the very least, about your industry.
It’s imperative that you extend your voice and enter the conversation – or start one if it does not currently exist. That’s where content marketing plays a role.
By “content marketing,” I refer to the practice of creating original content targeted to your customers’ needs and interests. This can come in the form of blog posts, videos, ebooks, white papers, product sales sheets, slide decks and more.
The above mentioned article cites three keys to creating a successful content marketing strategy:
1. Don’t just sell, add value
Give your customers information that will make them smarter, more productive, more successful or the first in the know.
2. Ask them what they want to hear
Your customers will tell you what they want to know more about, if you’ll take the time to ask.
3. Be human
Traditional advertising models make it difficult for brands to act as humans, but the advent of social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter demand that we do.
Content Marketing Options
Hopefully, you will agree that creating useful content is as important to marketing today as TV ads were back in the 1960s. But you may question whether, with limited resources in terms of budget and/or personnel, you have the capacity to create it. Here are some options:
Hire an outsourced provider
You could hire a freelance writer or agency to create content on your behalf. They need to be at least somewhat familiar with your industry, however. (Bizzuka provides content marketing services for our clients.)
Curate instead of create
If you’re absolutely strapped for time or budget, curate content instead of generating it.
Content curation is the act of discovering, gathering, and presenting digital content that surrounds specific subject matter. It has become a marketing staple for many companies with a successful online presence. There are several ways in which to do this.
1. Use content curation platforms
Several online platforms have been built to accommodate the curation model. Two I recommend are:
RebelMouse defines itself as a “social front page” that automatically updates as you post on social networks.
If you post content to Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, you can tell Rebelmouse to capture those links and pull them in to create a social hub. You can also aggregate content using Twitter hashtags, RSS feeds and other sources, which can then be published to your front page or not, as the case may be.
Here is an example of my Rebelmouse page, which I use as a portfolio for my writing.
In addition, by inserting a few lines of HTML code (it’s not difficult to do), you can integrate a Rebelmouse page into your company website. For example, real estate technology provider LeadingAgent.net uses the platform for its blog.
Another curation platform I recommend is Scoop.it. Though the interface differs from Rebelmouse, Scoop.it functions in a very similar fashion.
One feature found in Scoop.it that Rebelmouse lacks is the ability to create a profile page that contains different topics. For instance, my Scoop.it profile includes topics such as social commerce, content marketing and Pinterest marketing.
A blog can be used in much the same way as either Rebelmouse or Scoop.it and is already baked into your website CMS platform.
As you scour the web and find interesting articles, incorporate a few of them into weekly blog posts such as we do with the Five for Friday series. A headline, summary of the article and a link to the source is all you need.
3. Send email digests
Using our email marketing platform Soundoff, take those blog posts and turn them into a monthly, bi-weekly or even weekly email “digest” that is sent to your mailing list. Or, use a tool like Feedly to find content, from which a digest could be assembled.
We created a monthly “best of” Bizzuka blog digest email that is sent to a growing list of opt-in subscribers.
4. Post to a social network
You could use a social network such as Google+ as your curation station. (You were probably wondering what to do with that network anyway, so problem solved!)
Think about topics that are of interest to your customers and start collecting content using one of these options.
Content Marketing Benefits
I can think of at least three benefits provided by content marketing.
1. Builds brand awareness
Content marketing helps draw attention to your brand in ways that traditional marketing or advertising cannot. Create or curate content your customers and prospects find useful and they will share some of it with friends. (That’s why it’s important to make content sharable.) That gets your content seen by people who would not see it otherwise.
In addition, Google loves fresh content, so it can help improve your search engine optimization results, as well.
2. Establishes thought leadership
Industry-specific original and curated content helps establish you as a thought leader, knowledgeable expert and trusted resource. That, in turn, can drive business your way.
3. Cuts marketing costs
Assuming you take on the task yoursefl, aside from time, it can cost very little to create, curate and publish content, which can help to curb marketing expenditures.
I’m not suggesting that you replace all your current marketing and advertising with content marketing. What I do suggest is that you take a look at what’s working and what’s not, then consider moving some of those funds to support a viable content marketing plan.
The Internet – especially the advent of social media – has changed the way people find out about brands, products and services. If we want our businesses to grow, the way we market has to change with it. Over time, content marketing can have an impact on your bottom line.