30 Oct What is Content Marketing? Jane Heaton explains…
Jane Heaton of Jane Heaton Associates takes you through content marketing, how it can help your business and how to get started in content marketing.
I’ve heard a lot about content marketing recently, but can you explain what it is…surely it’s just writing blogs and guest blogging for others as most of us have been doing for years, but am I missing something?
The term content marketing is generally used to describe the process of marketing through creating and sharing content that potential customers find relevant, useful, and valuable. The ‘content’ itself can take all sorts of forms and formats.
Like social media marketing, content marketing is all about being helpful rather than overtly selling and aims to build relationships that convert to new and retained business over the long term.
Blogging done well (that is giving your audience what they want to hear not just what you want to say) can be the cornerstone of a successful content marketing strategy … but it’s never the only thing that’s going on. Mainly because a blog post is only one way of getting your content out there – and may not be the most suitable match for the content ‘experience’ you need to deliver at any one moment in time.
A well designed content approach can be quite complex. Here are the highlights:
- First you need a clear and deep understanding of your customers’ issues, needs and aspirations
- Then you create content that helps them solve their issues, address their needs, or achieve their aspirations – content your customers actually want to receive and in many cases are actively looking for
- Your content can be in different formats – the written word, audio, video, images and infographics. In fact it’s a good idea to use multiple formats because we all like to consume content in different ways
- And it will cover different levels of detail. From short tips and insights to in-depth guides, workbooks, demonstrations or trainings – something of real value that your audience finds useful, that educates or entertains
- When considering all of the above you also have to take into account the different stages your audience goes through on their buying journey and aim to provide the right piece of content (topic, level of detail, format) at the right time – when they find it most helpful and when it is most influential. Once you’ve defined, created, produced and published your content, you share it in multiple ways across multiple platforms. For example, as pages on your website, on your blog, on other people’s blogs, on social media, at events, or through the media
- But sharing your content is not enough. You also have to promote it. For example, a successful blog with a high quality, engaged audience is usually the result not only of regular social media sharing but also timely email marketing – still one of the most effective tools in the marketing toolkit. And for that, the blog owner will have had to entice the reader onto their email list –by offering some additional content with a high perceived value … because a ‘sign up to my list’ box on their home page just isn’t enough anymore
- And finally you observe and measure what happens once your content is out there and refine your materials, activities and process accordingly.
So essentially, a content marketing approach brings all your marketing activities and platforms together and joins them up into one cohesive strategy and process – putting the ‘content’ (what your customers want to read, hear, see and experience) at its heart.
It’s likely to take more research, thinking, planning and detailed execution than marketing that relies primarily on using just one or two key activities or tools. In fact any business using content marketing these days has to act more like a publisher or broadcaster than a traditional marketer of products and services.
Whatever marketing activities you’re currently doing, if you think your results need a bit of a boost, you may well just need to extend those activities a little and get more ‘joined up’ in order to play the bigger content game and reap the rewards. And if you’ve already got a successful blog, then you’ve got a good head start!
Jane Heaton is the founder of http://www.janeheatonassociates.com
If you’ve got any questions for Jane, please do leave them in the comments below…