For content marketing to actually be useful, you need to put in the legwork before you start publishing.
What is content marketing, you ask? Welp, you’re looking at it!
Content marketing is when you create, publish, and distribute content online for your target market. It commonly takes the form of article shares, blog posts, videos, infographics, e-mail newsletters, podcasts, white papers, and e-books. The purpose behind putting out all of this content is to attract attention to your business and your brand, increase brand awareness, generate potential customer leads, boost your online sales, and engage an online community of users.
But it isn’t quite so simple as, “If you build it, they will come.” For content marketing to actually be useful for your business, you need to put in the legwork before you start publishing content, and that means spending time thinking about your marketing strategy. Who are your customers? What problems are they trying to solve? How can you help them solve their problems? Which target market should you focus on helping? Which other markets should you deprioritize and why? What information might they lack that you can supply?
When you’ve thought through answers to all of those questions, then your content will be more informed and more relevant to the specific market you’re targeting. And that means that your target market is more likely to find it useful. And that utility is really what drives the success of a content marketing strategy.
Think about it. If you repeatedly post content that isn’t relevant to your target market and somehow related to your services, then your potential customer won’t feel any gratitude for the help he received from your content because it didn’t actually help him. That gratitude is the basis of reciprocity, the strong urge to return value to those who’ve helped us in the past, and that’s what you want to trigger. Worse, you might have annoyed your potential customer by wasting his time grabbing his attention with something that wasn’t relevant, and now he has a negative association with your brand. He’ll think that your business is one that doesn’t really understand how to help him, and that’s a great sign that he should take his business elsewhere.
So given those rules of the road, now take a step back and think about your business and whether content marketing makes sense for you. You need to understand what problems you’re trying to solve for your customer, what it is that you actually sell that solves that problem, and what related problems your customer might face. The content that you put out for free doesn’t completely solve the main problem for your customer, but it might solve some smaller, hopefully related problem and in essence act as a loss-leader. Now you’ve got your customer’s attention, you’ve already helped him out a little bit, and he might be willing to give you a change to help him out with an even bigger problem. As Humphrey Bogart would say, that can be the beginning of a beautiful friendship!