Does Content Marketing Really Work? Yes, If You Work It!
To understand how Content Marketing works, you have to first understand that it’s about the only method that works online for any type of business.
What is Content Marketing? In the days gone by, when advertising reigned, marketers became very pushy and interruptive. People hardly got the information they wanted without being intruded with unsolicited commercial messages. In reaction, the Internet became the “people’s space” … where they could seek information at their pace, make decisions at their pace, check out products or marketers at their pace – and buy if they chose and when they chose.
So, instead of publishing advertising, marketers had to start publishing highly-valuable, non-interruptive, “informational content”. It was the type of content that people could search for, chance upon, consume – and get a feel of the brand, quality and authority of the publishers, before deciding to trust and buy products from them.
Given this background, how can you, as a marketer, use Content Marketing with smartness, so that your content builds trust, builds your brand, and attracts customers to you, with their wallets and their loyalty? Here are a few tips …
- Decide which Content Marketing Model you want to follow …
Few entrepreneurs and marketers realize that Content Marketing can be done in two diametrically opposite ways.
- One way is to decide first what your specialization niche is, and decide what products and services you want to sell to you chosen target audiences. You then go ahead and build the products and services, and set up good conversion sales funnels on your site to make buying a choreographed experience for your site visitors. Having put all this in place, you now focus on getting people (traffic) in droves to your site so that you can get your site visitors to enter and go through the sales funnels you have created. Your blog becomes the vehicle of your Content Marketing. You regularly publish valuable articles that inform, guide, advice and mentor people on your niche topic, so that you become a go-to resource for both information and products in your space. Here, in this model, Content Marketing supports the sale of predetermined products and services.
- The second way to use Content Marketing can be followed by marketers who have no idea yet what they want to sell as products and services. You can decide on a niche you are attracted to and write blog content with a view to build the audience you’d like to cultivate. The idea here is not to sell anything yet, until you have wooed enough targeted subscribers to opt in to your mailing list. Here, in this model, Content Marketing supports the cultivation of a “Minimum Viable Audience” (or MVA). You build enough subscribers to make any selling effort, of anything in your niche, risk-free and cost-effective. The subscriber list is your goldmine. It not only builds a following for your authoritative writing, but also converts readers into fans and avid followers who trust your word. Once you have built this franchise with an audience that laps up your every word, you can then plan what you’d like to sell to them. Often, they will show you the way themselves, for you will learn their taste and preferences first hand.
Both these methods have worked spectacularly for successful online marketers. It’s not the method you choose, but the vigorousness with which you work it.
- Whichever Content Marketing Model you choose, these are non-negotiables …
- Forget Google and focus on people and their questions you can answer. No matter how much the information overload online, someone who has a question on some topic, wants an immediate answer that does not require him to search through a hundred different pieces of content. So, the more in-depth your answer is, the more satisfying it is to the reader – especially if your answer directly replies the exact intent of his search question. Focus on people and their needs and Google will eventually reward you for doing so – because Google also wants to answer people’s questions with as much accurateness and depth as it expects from you.
- Write your content pieces as frequently as possible and stay around your domain topic. Volume in Content Marketing is as important as quality. There’s no such thing as creating too much content. You build authority and trust faster when you are seen around frequerntly, and also seen as a specialist in a niche area. With such loads of content being produced by publishers every day, what are your chances of staying visible on top of the pile if you don’t write and publish with high frequency yourself? Besides, what you say has to be both theoretically strong and yet easily implementable too. You don’t want to work hard at being visible – and then pooh-poohed as being barely passable.
- Be “on brand” as you do your Content Marketing. You do have a unique branding and positioning that you have thought through, haven’t you? If you don’t, you have to get this down pat, before you write for your target audiences. And more importantly, since you have to produce volumes of content, day after day, it’s easy to stray away from the values, tone and style and differentiation that your brand stands for. So, make sure there’s brand consistency in your Content Marketing. (Secret tip: Most marketers are their own “brands”. So, the best way to “be on brand” is to be yourself at your authentic best all the time.)
Choose the right Content Marketing Model for you. Then make sure you write for the people in your audience. Maintain your brand values consistently as you gear up to produce a high volume of valuable content. Content Marketing does take a fairly long time to pay, because trust is not built in a day. But you can learn to do it right , so every step adds to traction.
There’s a beautiful line written by Jeffrey Gitomer that’s always worth remembering: “You cannot buy trust at any price. But slowly, over time, you can build it for free.”