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MCLELLAN: Why be a content marketer?


Content marketing. It seems as if everyone’s talking about it. But what exactly is it and what can it do for your business? Odds are, if you’re doing any marketing at all, you’re at least accidentally dabbling in content marketing.

First, it goes by many names. Some people call it custom publishing or branded content. Other people slap on the label of social or digital marketing. And all of those names are accurate.

Content marketing is a broad term for any marketing technique that creates and distributes valuable, helpful and relevant information that demonstrates that you know your stuff. These tactics draw the attention of people who are already your customers or could be your customers.

The ultimate goal of content marketing is to create a sense of trust and comfort that will lead to someone making an initial purchase, making an additional purchase or referring you to someone who’s ready to make a purchase.

The way you build that trust can differ, however. Let’s look at four of the main goals of content marketing and the types of content marketing tactics you can employ to accomplish each.

If you want to entertain your audience, you might:

• Make a branded video.

• Create a game.

• Start competitions/contests.

• Invent a playful widget or app.

To inspire your audience, you might:

• Open a community forum.

• Generate a cause marketing effort.

• Encourage customer reviews.

• Solicit celebrity endorsements.

If you would like to educate your audience, you could:

• Write an e-book.

• Publish some articles.

• Create an infographic.

• Record a podcast.

To convince your audience, you could:

• Host an event.

• Create some interactive demos.

• Put on a webinar.

• Create useful calculators or checklists.

These lists are neither exhaustive nor are they exclusive. A speech can do more than inspire; it can also educate or entertain. A webinar can do more than convince; it can educate or inspire. The subject matter, the delivery style and the intent will dictate the outcome of your efforts. And hopefully, if you produce quality content, it will accomplish more than one of the goals.

But this isn’t something you should just jump into. Like any marketing strategy, content marketing requires forethought and planning, especially because producing a blog or podcast or even putting on a contest requires a significant amount of time and effort. You don’t want to exert that level of effort and not maximize your gain.

The effort and planning are well worth it. Content marketing allows a business to connect with prospects long before they’re ready to buy. It gives them a sense of your product, service and expertise. Good content marketing tools not only communicate your expertise but also give prospects a very good sense of your brand’s personality. They will attract the best customers for you and, as odd as it sounds, repel those customers who wouldn’t be a good fit long-term.

Every business can find a content marketing tactic that is the perfect fit for its industry. It takes some time and effort, but the upsides are hard to ignore.

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