The term “content marketing” may be the latest and hottest term out there right now, but it’s actually a new name for a tried-and-true approach to developing new customers as well as retaining current customers.
The name of that tried-and-true approach? Good old fashioned connection.
Content marketing is, at its simplest terms, a method of fostering a connection with your customers by providing them with information that is useful, relevant, and meaningful. This connection, if done properly, doesn’t feel forced. Rather, it feels as natural and comfortable as a conversation with a friend.
What’s so great about content marketing?
Content marketing allows a company to step out from behind its mission statement and build its brand based on its expertise, resulting in customer trust. By amending the adage of “the customer is always right” to read “the customer comes first,” a company can address its product offering in a way that focuses on the customer’s needs and interests rather than merely what the company can offer them. By utilizing digital media such as the company website, e-newsletters, blog, and social media, as well as more traditional methods including business expos and conferences, a company can deliver their expertise to customers in a way that far outsells “sales” methods.
Perhaps the greatest thing about content marketing is the way it cuts through the clutter and pitch of more traditional marketing methods. No one wants to be “sold to” – in fact, most of us skip commercials whenever we can, mistrust a great deal of what comes into our inboxes, toss out junk mail, and refuse to answer telemarketing calls. In the modern world of marketing, hype has been downgraded. Content marketing takes a different tactic to reach customers.
How do I make content marketing work for my business?
Today’s consumer is a lot savvier, not to mention a lot more pressed for time and attention. To make content marketing work for your business, you’ve got to have three elements in place:
- Content – This is where you provide your expertise. Don’t spend all your time and your customer’s attention on your product or service. Talk to them about solving problems. Make your content about the bigger picture.
- Connection – Talk to your customer like you would a friend. If your content addresses the issues facing your customer, you’ll generate trust. Trust is invaluable, particularly when you’re working to rise above all the other marketing messages out there competing for attention. Pursue the avenues for connection that make sense for your business, from social media to your website to blogs, and be consistent in the message you share across the board.
- Communication – Respond to your customers, regardless if they have praise or criticism for your company. By responding you acknowledge both the things you’re doing well and the things that need a bit more attention. Take care in the tone you use in response, however. If it seems to be a canned response, you’ll undo all the connection you’ve worked so hard to establish.
If it seems that content marketing is just one long conversation between you and your customers, you’re right. The world is both larger and smaller than ever before, and you must make your content valuable, beneficial, and userful for your audience. If you approach it with a sincere desire to provide your expertise and assistance to your customer, you will reap the benefits of genuine connection.