Now more than ever, consumers are getting their information through content and social websites, as opposed to anywhere else. From YouTube and Facebook through to popular magazines and blogs, the internet is a gateway to content, and consumers know it.

Content marketing is the name given to reaching new customers through the use of value-driven content. Rather than a sales-pitch, content marketing is about creating something that will inform and engage potential customers, with the main aim being to get and keep their attention.

Some people consider content marketing to be a new kind of marketing, but really, it has been around for as long as the internet. Just consider: tweets are content, websites are content, sales pages are content, YouTube videos are content — the internet is content.

Whereas content is everything everywhere, content marketing is about creating the very best content and having it form part of a wider marketing plan.

 


 

An example
ABC Plumbing want new customers to sign up to their boiler-care package. Rather than directly trying to sell their service to customers by way of sales materials, the company has produced a blog post called ‘Seven Signs That Your Boiler Is On The Blink – And How To Fix Them’.

This post explores the most common faults they see with boilers, and gives customers the chance to learn how to fix them if the fault is simple. This is an effective form of marketing for two reasons. Firstly, anybody searching Google for information about their boiler has self-identified themselves as somebody who may have a broken boiler, and would therefore be an ideal customer for ABC Plumbing.

Secondly, although it might appear on the surface that giving away information on boilers for free would be throwing potential sales away, providing up-front value is a powerful way of establishing trust with potential customers, which is particularly important in service industries.

 


 

As explained above, content marketing is one of the best ways to capture the attention of potential customers, which is essential if you have any hope of turning them into a transacting customer. That means that the more effective you are with your content output, the more chance you have of starting relationships with new customers who would otherwise have not come across your business.

As well as introducing your business to new potential customers, producing content will also help build your reputation amongst people who are already aware of your business. Showing that you know your niche well and that you care enough about your customers to give away your secrets for free is one of the strongest ways to build trust.

Content marketing can work for any business, of any size, with the key effort being the key factor deciding success. Google and other such services don’t care for your turnover, or the history of your company, but rather, how thorough your content is. This means that it’s a level playing field, in which any company can win top ranking and exposure with the right content.

One of the biggest challenges facing any business hoping to get into content marketing is the question of what do you write about? The easiest way to solve this issue is to create a list of questions that your customers frequently ask you, and then create a piece of content to answer each.

This will help you with content production in two ways. Firstly, if you work your content around the questions that customers frequently ask, it’s almost a given that you have clear, well thought-out answers to each of them, creating a strong foundation for content. Secondly, creating content around questions that customers already ask means that you can be confident that there will be a demand.

If you’re struggling to get words down, read our guide on how to avoid writer’s block.

 


 

Below are some examples of what kinds of things you can produce content about.

– What’s the latest trend in your industry? Help your customers understand it.

– Do you have a new service? Explain all about it by way of content.

– Every industry is full of interesting and surprising facts. Share them with your customers.

– What are most common issues your customers face? Help solve them.

– How can your customers save money?

– Company updates: Exisiting customers love to hear about awards, progress and milestones.

 


 

For businesses who get content marketing right, the opportunities are never-ending. From countless new customers, through to an improved reputation, press coverage, higher customer retention and a more open, two-directional conversation with your customer base, content is a gateway to growth.

Quality is the deciding factor in all of this. Only the businesses who spend the most time, effort and attention on their content will win. As more and more consumers and businesses move to tell their story online, the best will rise to the top and anything else will go unheard.

Now is the time to invest in content as a commitment, not a campaign.