Tips & Bits #34: A Crash Course in Content Marketing

Posted on July 5, 2011 in Digital Marketing, Marketing Tips, Marketing Tips

Content marketing refers to all of the marketing formats that involve the creation and sharing of content with the goal of engaging current and potential customers.

Content marketing is based on the concept that providing relevant and valuable information to prospects and customers motivates profitable consumer action.

Content marketing is used to generate results that encompass retaining reader attention and improving brand loyalty.

The idea of sharing content in order to influence decision-making has caused some content marketers to make their informational assets available only to a selected audience. On the other hand, many content marketers believe in the strategy of creating new information and sharing it as broadly as possible.

Content marketing can be found in the form of custom magazines, print or online newsletters, digital content, websites or microsites, white papers, webcasts/webinars, podcasts, video portals or series, in-person roadshows, roundtables, interactive online, email, events.

The objective of the content is not to narrow-mindedly extol the virtues of a marketer’s own products or services, but to inform customers and prospects about industry issues, while tangentially involving the marketer’s products.

The fundamental rationale behind content marketing is the belief that educating the consumer results in a brand’s recognition as a thought leader and industry expert.

Marketers often use content marketing as a means of achieving a variety of business goals. These may include: positioning, lead generation, direct sales, introducing specific brand language and improving customer retention.

The term “content engineer” has entered the lexicon to describe a new category of marketer who creates, optimizes, and distributes different types of content intended to engage customers.

Content marketing is the basic philosophy behind tactics such as custom publishing, database marketing, brand marketing, branded entertainment and branded content.

HERE ARE TWO DOZEN RANDOM CONTENT MARKETING IDEAS:

1. Send a paper newsletter to existing customers to encourage loyalty and repeat business. (Oddly, customer newsletters work best when they don’t get too slick in format or printing. Four-color printing on glossy paper looks too much like an ad.)

2. Don’t be afraid to experiment with direct mail, especially as pay-per-click gets pricey. The same techniques that make online content marketing work are effective offline.

3. Write a special report that addresses a common problem in a unique way.

4. Create a free course delivered by email to build trust and affinity.

5. Write an educational series of blog posts designed to attract traffic for a keyword.

6. Offer a free class to build interest in your business or area of expertise.

7. Build a membership web site that is a profitable business itself.

8. Build a Facebook page (separate from your personal profile) that gives you another platform for interaction with your customers.

9. Compile your best 100 blog posts into a booklet.

10. When you contribute to an online forum in your area of expertise, remember that your answers reflect on you.

11. Take your most popular blog post, add some appropriate images and translate it into PowerPoint, then record it for a YouTube video.

12. Use WordPress to create mini niche sites. Use these niche sites to sell products from affiliate marketplaces like Commission Junction.

13. Use Twitter effectively by make your tweets entertaining, funny, and/or personal. A good balance on Twitter is 95% relationship-building, 5% selling.

14. Tell a story of how you’ve overcome a difficult problem that your readers will find relevant.

15. Write a yellow pages ad that looks like a blog post. Make it interesting, informative, funny, and compelling.

16. Take your 10-15 best podcasts, get them transcribed and edited, and distribute them as an ebook.

17. Bring 5 or 6 influential people in your area of expertise together and create a virtual conference. Each one conducts a workshop and a compilation can be offered as content to the audiences of each presenter.

18. Hold a Tweetathon for a worthy charity. Consider creating a piece of valuable content as a reward for donations over a baseline amount.

19. Use your own content to endorse others in your area of expertise. Partnerships, both formal and informal, can magnify your image in the content world.

20. Create a buyer’s guide. Use it to establish purchasing questions on your terms. Let buyers know what to look for. Tell them what questions they should be asking. (Don’t make this too self-serving. If you make it real it will likely get used.)

21. Write an editorial for a newspaper or magazine. (Enough people read them to make it worthwhile.)

22. Review everything. Books, blogs, newsletters, tools, physical products, information products.

23. Create a “10 Best” post that’s simple, user-friendly and entertaining, yet truly legitimate

24. Create a useful tool (a checklist, spreadsheet-based calculator, cheat sheet, planning worksheet, etc.) that can be distributed to your blog subscribers or email list

 

Chances are you create content and don’t recognize it as such. Every time you create a report or a PowerPoint, or conduct research and present the results you are creating valuable content. Of course you can’t release proprietary information, but with some editing you can probably re-purpose it for a blog or website.

Content marketing should not be held to the same ROI standards as your traditional advertising, but over time, it helps build brand equity and in the long run that can be of significant value.

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About Steven

Steven, a native of Los Angeles, is an advertising and marketing copywriter with over 20 years of writing experience in a wide range of subjects. An eBay addict, Steven has way too many hobbies and arcane interests – but it all makes good cocktail party conversation.

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