Content marketing is the only marketing left.
– Seth Godin
Content marketing is certainly not new. It is generally accepted that one of the first businesses to use content marketing effectively was John Deere in the magazine titled The Furrow to provide farmers with a resource of practical information that would increase their success. At the same time, it established John Deere as an expert on all things related to farming.
This leads to the need for businesses to adopt a new marketing strategy. Content marketing consists of focusing on creating and distributing information that a specific target audience will find pertinent and engaging. Rather than emphasizing the features and benefits of a product or service, content marketing is communicating without direct selling. It is providing information that educates your clients and prospects so they can make better buying decisions. It gives control to clients rather than the business.
Make Sure Your Content is Worth Reading
Put yourself in the mind of your target audience. Develop a list of general topics that would interest them, and think about where you can get good content. Are there credible sources within your company or organization who could be regular contributors? Can you subscribe to industry magazines as a source of research and statistics?
No matter what topics you decide to use, be sure you engage the reader by making it interesting and relevant. The more information you provide, especially information perceived as educational, the more interesting the content will become and the less overt your sales message will be.
Best Practices for Content MarketingSuccessful content marketing is built on a foundation of well-written copy that covers topics of interest to the target audience and also follows the rules of grammar and copyright law. The best content will:
- Be useful to the target audience
- Be unique in some way from what others are writing on the topic
- Use a writing style that the target audience is comfortable with
- Be fresh and appealing
- Advance a conversation
- Use good grammar
- Honor copyright law
Unique Content. To ensure your readers will continue to be interested in what you write, successful content marketers do more than compile relevant information from other sources. You will need to add something – facts and figures, personal anecdotes, a new perspective – that will intrigue your readers.
Writing Style. Your writing style is how you write rather than what you write. Depending on your topics and audience, you may want to use a narrative style which describes a personal experience based on a real event. An expository style that conveys information or explains something difficult to understand might be more appropriate. You might also choose a persuasive style that tries to convince the reader to accept a point of view or take an action. Within each of these styles, you can use grammar and sentence structure to strike a conversational tone, a formal tone or an entertaining or humorous tone.
Fresh and Appealing Content. The best way to keep content fresh and appealing is to write about what you know. Find topics in areas where you have some expertise. Not only will it be easier to write, but you will find it easier to offer unique insights and perspectives.
Advance a Conversation. Good content advances the reader’s knowledge on a topic. Avoid rambling, repeating yourself, and adding words, phrases, or sentences that add nothing to the content.
Use Good Grammar. Misspellings, run-on or incomplete sentences, misused words, and other grammar violations will cause your audience to pay more attention to the mistakes, than to the content. Proofread vigorously and edit ruthlessly.
Honor Copyright Law. If you are using information from other sources, give appropriate credit, and use quotation marks to indicate when you are using another writer’s words.
Amazing Opportunities in PrintWhen it is time to decide how to distribute the content, all media channels should be considered. In his book, Epic Content Marketing, Joe Pulizzi lists seven reasons why print is an excellent option.
- Print Grabs Attention. We are all getting less mail these days, so what we do receive really stands out.
- Print Focuses on Client Retention. Historically, companies have used print to stay in touch with their clients after a purchase has been made.
- No Audience Development Costs. Content marketing newsletters typically target existing clients, so it’s not necessary to develop a mailing list.
- What’s Old is New Again. Since marketers have been using so many other media channels recently, print is being sought again because it is now considered non-traditional by some.
- Clients Need to Know What Questions to Ask. It has been said that the web is where we go to get answers, but print is where we go to ask questions.
- Print Still Excites People. The printed word is still perceived as more credible than what appears on the Internet. It is generally felt that if it is in print, it must be important.
- Print Lets People Unplug. More and more people are choosing to spend less time online and more time reading printed pieces instead.