In my personal experience, many marketing departments and professionals focus most on conventional forms of online marketing such as Pay-Per-Click, Link Building and Social Media advertising and completely overlook the potential benefits of content marketing.
To my surprise, many business owners still don't know what content marketing is. Most people I speak to have never heard of content marketing, but I am certain they have experienced it first-hand, many times.
Simply put, content marketing is...
"the creation of meaningful content for your intended audience."
Why It Matters
I believe that establishing the position of your business or product in the market is the most important primary marketing activity you can do.
In a time where we're all competing for our prospect's attention, content marketing gives us a powerful vehicle for both establishing and defining a presence in our customer's mind. It helps you create demand for your product or service.
I'm unsure if businesses fail to realise the benefits of building brands and PR activities, or they just don't feel they're capable. Regardless, in my personal opinion, this activity doesn't take place often enough in most small businesses or Start-Ups.
Of course, there's much more to be said about branding and PR, but it's beyond the scope of this post. At its simplest, content marketing is what I like to call "Self-PR", others call it "do-it-yourself PR".
The great thing about content marketing is that it's essentially free for the small business and start-up, and for the larger business costs much less than other marketing activities.
Content marketing enables you to establish your team members as subject matter experts amongst your audience.
It gives you a chance to establish dialogue, trust and credibility and helps you build a relationship through regular distribution of meaningful content.
It helps you gain insight on your audience to understand what matters.
It helps you compete with 'big players' to level the 'playing field' for brand building and PR activities.
Never before has the small business and Start-Up been able to take PR into its own hands like today. With the advent of blogs, social media, video platforms and numerous platforms that allow us to create content. A marketer's toolkit for creating content is better than it has ever been.
Most exciting to me is, that it is in our own control. No longer do we have to rely heavily on traditional press agencies and media outlets. I'm not saying they're no longer useful, but they have good reason to be worried.
Content Marketing should be your primary focus over link building. I am continually surprised with the number of businesses I meet that still focus on link building when it comes to SEO. Link building should be an organic process not a contrived activity.
Google's mission has always been to provide reputable results to its users. The operative word being reputable. This is why a known brand has higher chances of ranking higher in the search results due to its established credibility. Businesses need to recognise that, to compete with bigger brands they need to focus on building their own.
This is why content marketing is important. Good content marketing is not a guarantee of impressive SEO results as other factors matter too, but it is important.
When the primary focus is development of the brand, great SEO results are a welcome side-effect.
Content takes many forms.
This ranges from written content on blogs, through to video content and pictures. The important point to note is content must be meaningful.
By this, I mean content that is relevant to your audience and engaging. There are many ways to engage your audience, and to do so requires consideration of the emotional/psychological aspects.
Consider making your audience laugh, teach them something, inspire or motivate them, or even press on their fears (of course, I say that with a "pinch of salt").
There are no hard and fast rules.
What works for one business may not work for yours. The key is to get started, experiment, learn and tweak.
One of my favourite examples is the "Will it blend" Youtube series where a man tests if something can be blended using his Blendtec heavy duty blender. The YouTube video series is very popular and has been key to establishing Blendtec as a premium, reputable brand.
I'm happy to provide further examples upon request.
If you're struggling for ideas for your business, or want further insight, please feel free to ask me in the comments.