Huge shift in how business gains attention, loyalty

There’s a big change afoot in marketing. It’s called content marketing, and it was evolving slowly until suddenly it took hold in 2013.

What is it? A combination of search engine optimization, social media, email marketing and analytics – all built around useful words and pictures. That’s the simplest way to sum up this seismic shift.

Because it’s all online, you control the content. In content marketing, you are the authority for your business topic. You blog about it, produce videos about it, send e-newsletters out about it, post on social media about it, create white papers about it. Your intention is to provide all the useful information anyone in your target audience could want, with consistency and a point of view that’s unique.

Think articles, white papers, webcasts, podcasts, custom apps, a research study, infographics and even branded entertainment, such as a custom game or virtual event. Where can you contribute to a conversation about your industry on a deliberate schedule (also called an “Editorial Calendar”)?

The idea is to bring your prospects back to your website with all this “free” bait. Over time, your 24/7 silent salesperson will help create further interest, build desire and even encourage action. You put out the stories and fill the pipelines for the sales force, counting on these methods to boost the content:

Google (search engines) for website rankings.

Social media (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, SlideShare, Pinterest) for promoting your posts and building community.

Email and your database for nurturing the leads to become customers.

Market feedback is immediate, via multiple metrics. Every social platform has “insights” to share with you about the success of your posts and community building. Google Analytics provides actionable data about your website visits, including which pages are preferred, the duration of a typical site visit, and where visitors are located geographically – and that’s just for starters. It used to cost $1,500 a seat to get that amazing marketing information from Google’s predecessor – now it’s free!

Essentially, the marketing department has now grabbed hold of the company’s steering wheel. All the elements have come together. Using content (we call it “words and pictures”), having an up-to-date database, using social media to get the stories out and incorporating email to nurture leads at every stage through to conversion  – they can slam dunk this marketing thing!
The benefits are compelling and you can realize them:

You are seen as a thought leader in your industry.

You improve your brand position versus competitors who are less prolific.

You demonstrate your virtues online without being self-congratulatory – by just being ultra-helpful.

You rank on Google higher than those who are not contributing to the conversation.

You gain leads by asking for email addresses when offering a white paper or infographic on your website.

To inspire you: What can you come up with that’s tailor-made for your business and something your customers will surely value and share? No longer do companies keep their erudition to themselves – they purposefully “spill content candy” for specific audiences to gobble up. They hope they’ll get them hooked.

Today, a marketing job at a company could well include the role of “content engineer.” That’s someone who has responsibility for generating and distributing the valuable materials that become, hopefully, wedges into the minds of his or her target audience.

It’s a perfect storm of possibilities for marketing right now. It all started when marketing went online and Google came to be the way to gain instant knowledge. Now companies have to show they have the knowledge for their particular niche – and share it!

You might want to learn more about this expanding world of content marketing.

The best resource I know is the Content Marketing Institute at contentmarketinginstitute.com.

Laurie Macomber, owner of Fort Collins-based Blue Skies Marketing, can be reached at 970-689-3000.

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