What Is Content Marketing?
To understand content marketing we need to quickly cover traditional marketing.
Traditional marketing mainly worked as an outbound strategy – meaning that as a business you would go out to get your customers. Some ways to do that are through cold-calling, going door-to-door, mailing advertisements, and more.
Today, these have become so common that we tend to overlook them. How many times have you received a flyer from the nearest pizza shop, and either completely ignored it or gave it a quick once-over before tossing it in the trash? 🚮
Content marketing circumvents this by focusing on inbound marketing – so now customers are coming to you. But how? 🤔
Let's Define It
Content marketing is a marketing strategy that focuses on the creation of various types of content (photo, video, audio, written) that is distributed online or in-person.
By creating and sharing valuable content you can attract more and more followers. These followers will then trust not only in your brand, but will undoubtedly be interested in the product you’re currently selling, and often you won’t even have to inform them about your product.
Because you’ve become a resource to them, they will look for you when the time comes to invest in your product category. And the perfect example of this comes from the pioneers of content marketing, John Deere.
The Rise Of Content…
In 1894 (over 100 years ago!) John Deere launched The Furrow, a “magazine designed to help farmers educate themselves and become better businessmen.” Farmers utilized these magazines as a tool, and appreciated John Deere’s interest in their success.
What’s even more interesting is how John Deere chose to not sell products within the publication, nor did they paste their logo on every page. Instead, they focused on helping their target market, and so when it came time to buy equipment, those farmers thought of John Deere first. They trusted in the brand that was most interested in their success.
The Furrow still exists today, with the same intent as it did back then – to help farmers be better farmers.
So as you can see, content marketing is a very valuable marketing strategy and has been for a long while, but it’s in the last decade or so that it has taken off – with the main reason for its rise being the internet.
By allowing people to create and share to the masses who love to consume, content marketing has exploded – and it shows no signs of slowing down.
“Content Marketing is all the Marketing that’s left. ”
— Seth Godin
5 Content Marketing Tips Every Small Business Needs To Know
Since content marketing is so important to any business, let’s talk about 5 simple tips that all small businesses need to know for better content marketing.
1. Share Consistently & Often
Today’s digital world is flooded with content. Consumers and businesses alike share a lot of information. Status updates, photos, and videos of… Well, everything, are constantly being shared, so to stay relevant in your audience’s mind you need to post often.
And more importantly, post consistently. By posting consistently, followers learn to expect information from your brand, especially when it’s valuable to them. They’ll start looking for it, rather than only passing by it while scrolling through their feed.
More on this in tip #4…
2. Answer What Your Audience Is Asking
Continuing with the notion that the web is flooded with info, focus on answering the questions your audience is asking.
Now I won’t dive too deep into the importance of knowing your target audience, as I‘ve covered in a previous post. So let’s talk about why it’s important to answer their questions.
If you really think about it, most people use the internet for two reasons – To look at content, or to search for content to look at.
So in order to attract more people, you need to understand what your audience is searching for. What interests are pulling them online, where they’ll head to Google, Bing, and even Yahoo! to search for answers. Better yet, ask yourself, how can I become their go-to resource for those questions and answers.
“Content is the reason search began in the first place.”
— Lee Odden
Samson Vowles, Delightful Design Studio
Now you might be wondering how am I supposed to know what they’re thinking? How could I possibly see what they’re searching for? Well, I’m going to let you in on a little secret that most consumers don’t know.
Google, as well as other companies, compiles this information for you. They track online trends and keywords which can be utilized in order to better understand what’s going on online. They even allow you to refine your search with filters.
The main thing to remember is that these services don’t exist to tell you what content to create, but they can help figure out how you want to format your content.
Check these out:
“When creating content, be the best answer on the internet.”
— Andy Crestodina
3. Strive To Be Visually Appealing
The third tip is to create quality content. Start by reading or watching articles or videos about design and formatting basics. Many small businesses tend to ignore this aspect of their content, but don’t realize that not investing in quality can hurts their reputation.
This might take some time to learn, but in the end it’ll be well worth it. Posting quality work is more noticeable, which will aid your marketing and business goals.
Start here: The 7 Elements of Graphic Design, and How to Apply Them
4. Plan And Schedule Your Posts
Planning, planning, planning… Boy, do we love planning at RedFork. And you should too!
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t act on random moments of inspiration when you’re feeling the urge to share content, in fact, I encourage it. Especially when using the story features available on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. 🤳🏼
But the best way to stay ahead of the game is to build and use a content calendar, in which you’ll plan and schedule your posts. And when researching your target audience, consider when they tend to engage in social media, and what time they tend to utilize the web.
For example, a restaurant that is looking to increase lunch traffic shouldn’t post during lunch hours. The best time to attract people to lunch is in the morning, during the early work hours when people are starting to think about what they’ll be eating for lunch that day.
Start your content planning today! Download our FREE sample content calendar, and let us know if it helped you organize your content.
5. Provide Different Content On Different Platforms
The last tip might be a bit more difficult to accomplish, but by planning your content, you can definitely achieve this tip.
The goal online is to have your audience follow you on all platforms. This builds your credibility while showing your brand’s versatility. And while you should secure one username for all platforms when you first start your business (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat), don’t worry about posting on all media outlets from the get-go.
Start with one or two networks, and build from there. I recommend starting with Facebook and Instagram, as they are the most popular for communicating visual content.
ON TO THE ACTUAL TIP...
To drive more traffic to your outlets, you should provide different content on separate platforms and make it known.
For example, if you’ve just written a new informational blog, give a teaser of some of its content in a video on Facebook. And within the video mention that there is more information that can be learned by visiting your blog. This way you’re attracting people to both platforms.
Bonus: Create More Video
As a bonus, I thought I’d quickly reiterate the importance of creating video now and in the future.
Video is the future of content. All trends point to people consuming and sharing more video. The rawness of video made by everyday people and businesses, as opposed to big name companies, is attracting more and more people daily.
Don’t worry about needing a professional grade camera or fancy editing tools. You can utilize your smartphone, or a simple point-and-shoot camera to record decent quality video, and edit the video on standard computer programs or phone apps, such as iMovie or Vee is for Video.
So make sure to include video in your content marketing strategy, and if you need any help just give us a call. 😜
New age content marketing is still very much in its infancy, and though we aren’t sure how it will continue to evolve, we can definitely be sure that it’s not going away. And in order to stay relevant you need to make sure to invest time into your content.
Consumers love to get behind the brands they love, and part of that is being involved in a brand’s identity. So strive to create quality content that will be of value to them and inspires them to share it with others.
Did these tips help you in understanding your next steps for better content marketing? I’d love to know your opinion on content marketing in the comments below.
Brand Lessons From John Deere’s Century Old Content Marketing, by Prophet
7 Ways to Find What Your Target Audience Wants and Create Epic Content, by Search Engine Journal
The 7 Elements of Graphic Design, and How to Apply Them, by HubSpot
Why Content Marketing Is the Best Long-Term Marketing Strategy, by Inc.
9 Best Social Media and Content Marketing Tips From Buffer, by Convince & Convert
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