Before we jump into the meaning of content marketing, I’d like to discuss the meaning of marketing first.
The American Marketing Association defines marketing as:
“the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.
All too often I hear people confuse the terms advertising and marketing. I know I might be getting into semantics here but there is a very big difference to me.
Advertising is simply a component of marketing. Advertising is specific in nature and relates directly to the product or service you’re trying to sell. Marketing on the other hand is much larger in scope and as the AMA points out above, it’s about offering value.
Now, let’s get back to the matter at hand…
Content marketing, like marketing in general, is all about providing value–not selling. With content marketing the goal is to share valuable, free content that attracts and engages people. It’s kind of like “Field of Dreams” – except with content marketing it’s “If you write it, they will come”.
Here’s the process:
1. Define what information your audience is looking for.
Remember, it’s not about selling your services. You’re not talking about how great your product is. You’re sharing information that your prospects are looking for, and trying to position yourself as an expert. For example, if you’re a local nursery, maybe you share tips and best practices for when to plant bulbs and certain plants in your specific climate zone.
2. Create a forum to host your content.
You need to determine where your content will reside. I suggest following the SilverRank model with a search engine optimized blog like this one. By housing all your content marketing on your own domain, this creates new pages on your website and can help attract a great deal of traffic from Google, Bing and Yahoo. Once you have them on your blog then they can easily navigate to other areas of your site and make a request or a purchase.
3. Get cracking–or better yet writing.
The biggest mistake I see any content marketer make is not writing enough and stressing over the little details. With a blog, you can write in a conversational tone. You may have grammatical mistakes, you may have typos, you may not get hired as an English teacher. That’s ok! In fact I’m sure there are several of these issues in this blog post. But if you provide good value, your readers won’t mind (and I hope you don’t mind)! So stop fretting and get writing.
4. Learn about SEO.
SEO or search engine optimization is a key to successful content marketing. I said before that if you write it, they will come. Well that’s only true if they can actually find it! If you’re posts, and website, aren’t search engine optimized you are missing out on a lot of traffic. The SilverRank blog has some great SEO tips for Buffalo businesses. You can also check out some great sites like mashable.com and seomoz.com for more tips.
5. Leverage Social Media.
In social media, like everything else, it’s about connections. Creating and sharing great content is a great way to build your social media connections. Social media can also be a great forum to get ideas for what to write about. Become a consumer and read as much content as you can. Ask your social media connections what they’re passionate about and ask for topics to write about.
6. Collect opt-ins.
Encourage people to sign up for free whitepapers or ebooks. For example, here is an outstanding ebook with 9 tips on driving traffic to your website (yes it happens to be a piece we wrote). And be sure to sign up for our newsletter, The SilverLining, for great tips on all things content marketing.