Content marketing is one of the most popular marketing strategies right now. It is something that any business can do, and it has the potential to gather a huge following. However, too many companies try to jump in feet first without realizing the biggest mistake they can make with their content marketing.
Which is, in essence, if it looks like marketing it's going to fail.
The Zen of Content Marketing
Getting the most out of content marketing can sometimes feel like you're trying to solve a riddle. Because in order to increase your customer base, you have to very expressly not try to sell them something. It goes against every marketing instinct a business may have, but it's important to remember that content marketing is not overt. Instead, it's a more subtle endeavor.
The goal of content marketing is to form relationships with people and to fold them into your audience. You don't want them to regard you as a business. Instead, you want these people to think of you as an expert in your field, and as a provider of the content that they enjoy. Once they have come to value your content, that is when they'll begin making purchases from you.
Value Is The Key Word, Here
When it comes to content marketing, you can't just slap a bunch of blog entries or videos online, and then expect money to roll in. You need to create content that offers value to those who consume it. So before you decide to just start churning out content, ask what your audience is supposed to get out of it. You should also ask why they would keep coming back for more.
Let's look at some examples. For instance, say you were a craft store. If you wanted to grab some people's attention, then you might make videos with tips and tricks for various crafts (wood burning, knitting, crochet, woodworking, etc.). These videos will get people's attention, but they'll also establish you as entertaining, and professional. So when your viewers need to order a new hot glue gun, or they want to get a new skein of yarn, they're more likely to go to you because they know you. They've seen your face, heard your voice, and you're more of a person to them because of the videos they watched.
The same thing is true across the board, here. Whether you're a movie theater with a film review blog, an auto parts store with a weekly advice video on car maintenance or a local restaurant with an endless supply of kitchen life hacks, your content is the impression you're going to leave on your audience. It's what they'll know you for, and as long as that content gives them something (entertainment, information, ways to clean their sink with a two-liter of Coca-Cola, etc.), then they'll keep coming back to you. It's that familiarity that will transition someone from being a viewer to being a customer.
It's Not An Absolute Conversion
Even if you create phenomenal content, it's important to remember that not everyone who consumes it will become a customer. However, if the content is popular, then the people who consume it will share it with their friends, family, their social media contacts, and others. This does a lot of your marketing for you, and if you're fortunate, a loyal audience can make your content go viral. While a small percentage of your audience will become customers, that can still mean a lot of new business if you manage to find a substantial audience for your content.
Of course, this is just one way to think about content marketing. Depending on your goals, there could be a different playbook you would want to use.
You want to educate your audience and answer the questions that they have. If you become the Wikipedia of knowledge in your space, you will have a much better chance of winning with content marketing.