Content, content, content. If I hear the term ‘Content is King’ one more time, I’m going to throw the content of my laptop off the balcony. It seems that these days everyone wants to ‘create content’. There’s no doubt that it’s been the marketing trend of the last year or two, building on the foundations that social media set a few years before.
In essence, it’s about producing work, either written, visual or audio, that’s designed to be shared online and increase a company’s exposure. It’s meant to attract people to your brand with something of value rather than interrupting them with a marketing message about your product. That’s all well and good, but what exactly is ‘content’ in this sense?
Well it depends on what type of business you are to be honest, but it usually boils down to the same thing; providing your customer base with something interesting, and telling them a bit about who you are in the process. It’s all about telling a story.
Every business has a story to tell
People tend to think of content marketing as simply blogging, but in reality it can be almost anything that involves copywriting in some form; a blog, social media, email newsletters, podcasts etc. All offer a similar opportunity to frame yourself in your customer’s mind.
Small businesses might think that they don’t have anything to talk about, and that brand-building is to be left to bigger companies with bigger advertising budgets, but that’s not the case.
You mightn’t be a big company with lots of resources to pump into a flashy ad campaign but you sure as hell have something to say, and this is where content marketing can work wonders in strengthening your brand. It’s an opportunity to showcase your company’s personality, to give your customers and potential customers an insight into your strengths and values.
In an SME B2B sense, it generally tends to be positioning yourselves as a knowledgeable industry expert with How-To and advice pieces, and that’s fine, but what about other, smaller, consumer-facing businesses? When it comes down to it, every client project, every happy customer, every employee, every day the company is in business is its own story waiting to be told.
It’s easy to get started
Start a blog and document the day-to-day ups and downs of your business. On social media, share photos of your staff and your work. Craft a story for your brand. Talk about the challenges you face as well as the wins. The good times and the bad. Give your customers a glimpse into the human aspect of your business.
A company in the food industry for example has a wealth of ‘content’ waiting to be shared, in both a visual sense (people can’t get enough food porn), and in a written sense (share some recipes or suggested use cases for your product).
It is an art. It’s something you have to work on there’s no doubt about that, but it doesn’t have to be as daunting as it sounds. It takes no time at all to add a WordPress blog to your site and most small companies are already active at least in some form on social media, it’s just about giving more consideration to what you post. Include an email newsletter signup form on your website if you don’t already have one and start building an email list. An email newsletter is content too!
Writing doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and it can be tough to start off with but, like with everything, it gets easier with practice. Start off small and build from there. You have to take that first step. Put a plan together, one blog post a week for example, and stick to it. Make note of happenings during your work week that you could write about.
A message is a message, regardless of the channel
I think when people separate content marketing from social media, and even traditional brand building approaches, they’re missing the point. A marketing message is still a marketing message regardless of the channel used.
In a way, ‘content’ can be any message that reaches your customer. And with this thinking, you should treat it as if it were any other type of brand building exercise. There is far too much rubbish on the web today. Content for the sake of content. I’m looking at you memes and Facebook quotes! You wouldn’t associate this crap with your company in a print ad or on TV, so why do it online?
It’s also important to realise that this type of marketing doesn’t necessarily have to result in a CTA to buy your product. It’s more about strengthening your brand. It’s not about capitalizing on intent like with search marketing, it’s about creating intent, more like traditional media. Google’s search engine results page is very important for being found online, but at the end of the day, it’s still only one of the ways a customer might come across your company.
Most of the iconic and established companies in business today still lean on their heritage when promoting their brand. While not every company has a wealth of history to base their marketing on, every company definitely has its own story to tell, and there’s no time like the present to get started telling yours.