Forceful advertising and manipulated buying decisions have faded away, and we’re stoked about it. Content marketing is, and will continue to be, the favored way towards genuine connection in marketing. If you aren’t using content marketing, then you may be falling behind.
What is content marketing?
To start understanding what content marketing is, let’s use an example:
This blog post.
We admit it: we’ve put this post on our website to attract attention to ourselves. But not just any attention. We want to draw in people like you, who want to sort out how to use digital tools to build a brand, sell a service, or attract new buyers. You’re our people.
This article sits in our blog. If it weren’t for this piece and others like it, the blog would be sitting empty. A blog needs words and images – the content – to work. And content itself needs to resonate with real people on a real level. Without authentic connection, what do we have?
Since content marketing is such an extensive umbrella, here are specific examples of the content that a content marketing agency might produce:
- Websites – For many businesses, not having a website is the equivalent of being invisible. Among other things, a business’s website is an important example of owned media. It can be filled with all of the content below, but it also has static material that serves as a kind of brochure, one available to everyone in the world, all the time.
- Blog posts – Blogs have been around for decades, and although their relative importance has diminished over the years, they still do a lot of work in the marketing space. Read more about blogs here.
- Email – Email campaigns work. Check out the numbers. A blast of email can reach thousands of highly targeted recipients, right in their inboxes. It can spark engagement with social media and blogs, too.
- Social media – Over the last decade, social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn have taken over a substantial amount of the collective attention span. Like a website, a business’s social media channels are also forms of owned media. Harnessing their power can be a game-changer.
- Medium – A big chunk of content marketing focuses on digital platforms: websites, blogs, social media, email, white papers. But it also has a place in the real world. Brochures, pamphlets, and even custom-crafted books still have a powerful place in capturing attention.
Not all content is good content
Now that we know where this content lives, let’s dive into the details. The foundation of content marketing is that through relevant content, you provide value to your audience and forge connections that last. Remove relevance and value, and the entire house falls apart–all you’d be left with is marketing. And not all marketing is engaging.
The fatal sin of marketing is thinking you could possibly be everything to everyone, all the time. Content marketing eliminates this illusion and forces you to niche it out and offer a specific solution to a target audience’s problem. Another word for content marketing? Relationship.
How to: Provide Value
Offering value is simple when you have a pulse on who your customers are. It’s removing the urge to ask for the sale too quickly, and too often. With content marketing, your focus is education, inspiration, and encouragement. Focus on this and watch your company bear fruit like never before.
Offering a freebie is a surefire way to focus on value. Especially regarding potential customers that are still becoming acquainted with your brand, try removing “click here to purchase!” and replace it with “click here for our FREE Content Marketing 101 course!”
How to: feel like an old friend
Trust isn’t built overnight. Think of everybody you deeply trust in your circle–what did they do to prove to you they are trustworthy? That’s how you should treat your customers. Humans are wired to trust, and even purchase, through real people and positive relationships. This doesn’t place less emphasis on having a stellar product, but without customer loyalty, you’ll become old news.
One way to accomplish this is by showcasing the people behind your business. Who works there, and why? What is their personal favorite service or product you offer, and how does it make their lives better? Tell your business birth story and what gets you up everyday. It’s got to be more than: make money. How does helping people light a fire under your ass?
Keep It Crystal Clear to Win
Nothing causes people to walk out the door faster than confusion. It’s tempting to feel like every detail must be given, but your 30-second elevator pitch is all it actually takes. If you can’t summarize what you do and how you help others in half a minute, it may be time to go through a niche or story-branding exercise.
Story Branding 101
Gone are the days of you being the customer’s hero. It’s time to take off your cape and think of yourself as a guide, leading a customer to being their own hero. Through story, the problem to be solved is made clear, and the customer feels empowered to take matters into their own hands.
Here’s how the king of Storybranding explains it:
“In other words, your audience is Luke Skywalker. You get to be Yoda. It’s a small but powerful shift. This honors the journey and struggles of our audience, and it allows us to provide the product or service they need to succeed.” – Donald Miller
Why is story branding the secret sauce to content marketing?
- Stories foster trust: Storytelling is a convincing tool in human connection. The brain responds to stories by igniting both sensory and motor cortex. The result? Improved comprehension, understanding, and receptiveness.
- Personality Promotion: People trust other people. To put forward your true self, all of your quirks should shine through. A study by Chung Kim tells us that customers are more likely to be attracted to a brand whose self-expression is distinct. A well received brand personality means more customers and more recommendations to their networks. Are you witty? Strictly professional? There’s no right or wrong, there’s only you being your total self.
- An Incomplete Ending: What’s more frustrating than a show, book, or movie that doesn’t provide resolution at the end? For a season, it’s fun to let our imaginations run wild–but more than anything, we want stories with happy endings. Storybranding opens the door, and keeps it wide open, until resolve takes place.
Are you in a pickle?
Do your customers need a hero? We know that you have the product or service people are longing for to improve their own lives.
You don’t need to create killer content alone. As experts in content marketing, we find success in helping businesses like you tell your story. Contact Red Mallard today to discover, create, and deploy – together.