In a changing digital landscape where consumers prefer to receive information of their own volition through channels like search and social media, traditional marketing tactics can sometimes feel too obvious or just plain pushy.
Gone are the days when marketers could bombard consumers with information in the hopes of converting a few individuals into loyal customers. Modern consumers are weary of these types of heavy-handed marketing efforts and can spot them a mile away.
So, how can you genuinely engage and connect with customers today? Even better, what if your customers actually looked forward to your marketing? That’s where content marketing comes into play.
What Exactly is Content Marketing?
According to the Content Marketing Institute, “content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience—ultimately driving profitable customer action.”
Translation: Content marketing involves creating and curating valuable, informative content with the intention of influencing consumer behavior. Best used as a fully integrated part of your marketing strategy, content marketing focuses on owning media—not renting it temporarily.
How Does Content Marketing Work?
Simply put, content marketing has more to do with what consumers really want than traditional marketing strategies. As Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, once said, “Your customers don’t care about you, your products, your services… they care about themselves, their wants and their needs.”
Traditional marketing revolves around actively trying to sell products or services to consumers—making the focus of the narrative about the business, not the consumer. Content marketing, on the other hand, is about sharing useful information that helps to educate them and meet their needs. This strategy is non-interruption marketing at its best—it’s all about attracting, engaging, informing and helping customers, without getting in their way.
For some great examples of these concepts in action, look no further than General Electric. Innovation is in General Electric’s DNA, so it’s no surprise that the manufacturing and engineering company pushes boundaries with its content marketing. For instance, GE’s Pinterest account is full of high-quality, curated content that simultaneously caters to the platform’s audience, while subtly promoting its own products. For example, the company has curated a food and recipe pin board, which also includes appliances and equipment that GE manufactures.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, GE recently released a wildly successful sci-fi podcast that nods to the company’s growing interest in sound technology. In both of these examples, General Electric succeeds by putting the focus on its customers, while subtly promoting its products, services and key messages.
What are the Key Benefits of Content Marketing?
One of the best things about content marketing is that it allows businesses to connect with their customers in an organic way. Content marketing creates opportunities for customers to become familiar with your brand. The more content you have, the more opportunities your customers have to get to know you. Consistently providing relevant, engaging content can help frame your business as an authority in its industry, which can breed trust and improve your brand’s reputation.
Think your business can’t benefit from content marketing because of your industry? Think again. Any business can use content as a powerful marketing strategy. Even B2B businesses in traditionally “boring” industries can benefit from creating content that provides insight into industry trends.
Content marketing is one of the most practical and effective marketing strategies available to marketers today. While this strategy is trending at the moment, it most certainly is not just a fad—in fact, content marketing has already been around for decades.
For example, John Deere has been publishing a customer magazine called The Furrow since 1895. The popular magazine is one of the earliest examples of content marketing; The Furrow aims to educate farmers on new tools and technologies, not just promote the brand’s own products. John Deere’s century-old content marketing strategy has certainly withstood the test of time and yielded impressive results for the iconic company.
Like with John Deere, content marketing can help your business build online visibility, generate more leads, increase conversion rates, grow sales and more. It establishes and nurtures relationships with your customers in ways traditional marketing tactics simply can’t achieve. No matter your goals, content marketing is sure to be an asset to your overall marketing strategy.
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