Your brand is just as good as your content marketing efforts. But what do we really mean when we say “content marketing”? Are we simply joining the bandwagon? Is it all just a hype?
Let’s try to nibble this into tiny, digestible pieces. Ever heard of Blendtec’s “Will it Blend?” campaign where they blended a brand-new iPhone as a test of durability? Smells electrifying! Or maybe you gave in to Coca-Cola’s Share-a-Coke experience and even uploaded a personalized coke bottle on your IG feed?
These two, along with other iconic ads, are content marketing in different forms. And they’re not the first ones out there, either. In fact, some even suggest that the very first sign of content marketing date back to the time when our ancestors used cave paintings as a form of communication and self-expression. Other experts argue that it was in 1732 when Benjamin Franklin published the Poor Richard’s Almanack for promotional purposes that content marketing became a real concept.
Regardless of the time and its real origins, one thing stays the same: content marketing has been with us over the centuries, and it is not just a passing trend.
Content Marketing Defined
Ask content marketers and they may have varying concepts and definitions of “content marketing”. Same word, different connotations, but with the same end-goal: to add value to targetted consumers to attract brand engagement and loyalty. How? Well, the “how” is where marketers usually need to think, conceptualize, and re-align their purpose with their strategies.
Wait, what? Can we be a bit more specific? To better understand content marketing, let’s talk about how it differs from the traditional marketing strategies you often see on TV. Traditional marketing is basically an interruptive form of marketing. When you click on a trending vlog, for instance, an advertisement usually pops up. That advertisement–which causes “disruption” on your end as a user–is traditional marketing. It directly asks the audience to buy products via rented platforms and spaces like television, YouTube, billboards, and the likes.
The vlog you clicked, on the other hand, is what you call content marketing. It adds value to you as a user without causing interruption (while promoting a product or brand). Unlike traditional methods, it doesn’t directly ask you to buy a certain product, but because the content is valuable and engaging, you slowly build brand loyalty and patronage.
Sounds clear? If it isn’t, think of it this way: traditional marketing involves old-school strategies (think TV commercials, radio stations, posters, print ads), while content marketing is the younger, more innovative version that mainly revolves around Internet use, but is also “old school” in a sense that it uses “courtship” to get a targeted audience’s trust.
Traditional vs Content Marketing in a Nutshell:
Traditional ads: Focuses on product benefits
“Level up your football game while keeping injuries at bay with our super reliable knee pads!”
Content marketing: Focuses on a targeted audience’s specific needs and wants
“Subscribe to our newsletter and get FREE daily updates about our local football league.”
3 Timeless Content Marketing Strategies
Content marketing is continuously-evolving. It leaves you enough room to be creative and to play with different mediums where you can streamline your promotion. But to narrow down the content marketing road, below are some of the best practices you can use as you start this journey:
Use Tools to Know Your Audience
The success of ANY marketing strategy starts with knowing your audience. By understanding how they think (and move), you can craft a content marketing plan that is 1) timely and 2) valuable to them.
Thanks to online tools, you don’t need to shoot in the dark anymore. Google Trends, for instance, helps you compare the volume of keyword searches, so you can use the best-ranking ones to gain better visibility. True to its word, this handy tool allows you to “Explore what the world is searching”.
Start Curating Adaptive Content
Pushing aside traditional marketing techniques, who do you think should be the main core of your content marketing plan? What segment of your market would most probably have access to all the content you’ll generate?
Based on research, 9 out of 10 millennials use a smartphone, making this generation a significant part of any marketing strategy. Plus, another study also suggests that millennials are becoming a huge part of the global workforce and that most of them value meaningful experiences over products. Put these two factors together and you’d know there’s one huge piece that can complete your content marketing puzzle: adaptive content.
And by adaptive, we mean content that can be accessed via laptops, desktops, tablets, mobile phones, and just about any digital tool you can think of. Content is a powerful weapon. But it can only have power over those it can reach.
Focus on Value
Picture this: You’re in a mall and you see a promo guy demonstrating the uses of product Z. The product looks promising but, at the back of your head, a small voice is whispering, “He’s just trying to win you over. Don’t fall for it.”
See the problem? Trust. If there’s one huge challenge most content marketers face, it’s building a fruitful, lead-generating relationship with consumers like you. And now that the focus shifts from creating actual products to providing valuable experiences, the only way to up your game is to focus on quality and value.
Before choosing the perfect platform to encourage brand awareness, ask yourself: How am I going to add value to my segmented audience? Is my content good enough to tap the interest of audience X? Nothing is worse than having access to a huge network but not having the content that sends the right message, so always focus on quality. Trust us, search engines would reward you for it, too!
Although there can be drastic changes in content marketing trends and strategies over time, there’s one fact that will never change: content marketing is never about you or your products. It’s about your audience. Their interests. Their challenges. Their needs.
Give them value and they will return it to you ten-folds.