This is a guest post by Dina Indelicato, a blogger enthusiast and freelance writer.
Marketing is expensive. There’s just no way around that.
Most companies spend something like five to ten percent of their budget on marketing. With it going towards the low end if they just want to maintain their position. While they want to be closer to the high end if they want to grow.
Now, if you’re a small business that’s a lot of money. What’s more, it often isn’t spent that effectively. Things like traditional marketing are becoming less and less effective. That’s because readers and viewers online are becoming ever more skeptical of what companies have to say through such traditional channels.
One area that’s still effective, however, is content marketing. That’s because most people aren’t yet aware that it’s marketing at all. And that means it can often fly in under people’s radars, build up your brand and market your product.
Of course, for that to be effective you do need to know how to use it correctly. So how do you do that?
Content marketing is a long-term strategy.
The first thing you need to understand is that content marketing isn’t something you start and where you then expect immediate results. That’s not how it works. If you try to treat it in that way, you’ll find that the whole concept doesn’t work for you at all.
You see, content marketing isn’t about marketing your products. When you do that, you’re just engaging in traditional marketing with more text. Which isn’t all that effective as people don’t have the interest or the time to read long texts about how much better your product is than everybody else’s.
Instead, it’s about building up your brand by associating it with high-quality information. Creating the idea in your reader’s mind that you’re a trustworthy source of information and ideas. This then, in turn, makes them trust your brand and by extension your products more.
Yes, that is a long process. If you decide to jump ahead in the game, however, by for example pushing your products too hard, then you’re going to short circuit the entire process. Your readers will immediately know your content marketing for what it is – an attempt to sneak in under their radar and sell them to them. As you can probably guess, that will immediately get their backs back up.
So does that mean you can’t mention your products?
Yes of course you can. If you can never mention your products then that’s obviously counter-productive. Instead, what I’m saying is that they shouldn’t be the main focus of your article. For example, you might mention them as a solution to a problem, but avoid mentioning them as the only solution.
By downplaying your product in this way and offering them information first, counterintuitively you’ll actually raise the chance that your readers will decide they can trust you about your product.
Even better, if the information is really good then you might activate the norm of reciprocity. This is where when people give you something for free and with no strings attached, you often feel morally obliged to do something back for them. What better thing can you do on a website than buy their product?
It’s a fine line, but you’ll learn to walk it over time. Just make sure that you stay on the right side of it. As ultimately that will be far more effective over the long run.
Content marketing is made up of two words.
The truth is they’re equally important. If you’re great at creating content but you don’t put in the work to market it, you’ll find that nobody ends up reading what you’ve got to say.
If, on the other hand, you’re great at marketing but your content leaves a lot to be desired, then people might click through and read what you’ve got to say. But they won’t stick around to actually spread the word about what you’re doing or buy your product.
In both cases, your strategy won’t work.
Now, obviously if you’re good at both – as in you can market well and you can write great content, then that’s fantastic. If, however, you’re like the rest of us mortals and you’re better at the one than the other, don’t be afraid to get somebody else involved for the bit you’re worse at.
A great marketer, for example, will know how to market your content not just to different groups but also in different languages by using the good translation service. Thus getting your brand in front of people who otherwise might never have heard of it.
Sure, this will cost you money. But then, marketing always does and content marketing is no different in that way. Besides, your time is also expensive. So if you find that somebody else can do what you’re doing better and for less money, then you need to take that option.
After all, you have to spend money to make money.
Content marketing and SEO
There is one aspect of content marketing that’s often not mentioned in guides like this. That’s how useful it is to position yourself well for Search Engine Optimization. This is down to the fact that content marketing is constantly creating a stream of articles about areas that are very close to what you’re trying to draw people to your website for.
Google cares a great deal about active websites that are offering relevant and up to date content, so that matters.
For that reason, make sure that you do the right keyword research for your articles. Make sure they’re correctly positioned for your customers as well as your readers.
Do note, not every article needs to be laden with keywords related to what you’re trying to do. High-quality content is just as important. It’s the kind of stuff that gets shared. Because that is important to your ranking in search engines, you don’t want to neglect it.
Content marketing is an incredibly effective way to build up brand awareness and to position yourself as a thought leader in your industry. For that reason, make sure you actually spend some time on it.
My advice? Use it as part of a two-pronged strategy where you use it together with more traditional marketing strategies to get your brand and your content out there in front of the people who will buy what you’ve got to sell.
The great thing about doing this is that you’re creating something that’s greater than the sum of its parts. With the marketing helping spread your content, and your content in turn helping create positive brand awareness.
In this way, you’ll create a lasting impression that will take your company further and help your brand grow.