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What is content marketing?

Updated: May 12, 2022




Content is a word you hear a lot these days in relation to marketing, especially digital marketing - website, social media and other online activities. Here's a textbook explanation of content marketing, as described by the Content Marketing Institute:


Content marketing is '... a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action'.


In short, this means there is an art to creating the right content for your audience, in order to get people interested in your brand and what you sell. Content marketing can also be really valuable for small businesses as it is much cheaper than traditional advertising .


Know your audience

Knowing who your audience are is key, as this gives you the ability to tailor your content to suit those people. If you know who your typical customer is, you can picture them in your mind when developing new content and think 'will they like this?' or 'should we phrase that differently?'.


What content should I give them?

Content marketing is about giving your audience information that is useful and interesting to them, rather than trying to sell your product. It's the antithesis of old-world advertising, where marketers would promote the benefits of a product or service and hope that this was enough to persuade people to choose them. Today's customers would rather learn about a company through an article than through an advert.


Offer your audience content that isn't designed to drive a sale, but designed to drive interest and trust in your brand. And use what you know about your audience to tailor your words, your message, your image choice.


Here's a super simple example.

Imagine you sell garden supplies. Instead of only promoting your business with content that focuses on products or offers, you share regular tips and advice for gardeners through your blog and social media channels. These seem popular with your followers on social media, so you provide some 'how to' video guides on how to get the best out of your garden. You also ask your readers questions and you're receptive to their feedback. As time passes, you learn more about what your customers want and need, what their gardening issues are, what they like to hear about and what they don't, and you feed all of that knowledge into your content plan. You develop a trusting audience who regularly return to you for further advice and hopefully, for their gardening purchases too.


Build relationships and trust

Content marketing isn't about driving sales, it's about building a relationship with your audience. Encourage them to look to your business for knowledge and advice, so when they're ready to make a purchase, you're who they go to. It's not about quick results, it's something that requires time and effort and consistency.


Put the customer's needs first

You're looking at things from their perspective. You're informing them rather than selling to them. By getting to know them a little better, you can given them content that is of genuine interest to them, and which stands out because of this. And if it is genuinely interesting, they are likely to share it with their friends too.


Over time, and if your content is good, you will grow your number of visitors, your readership, and ultimately, your leads.


This post is part of series on getting started with marketing for small businesses. Check out the other posts in the For Starters series.





Image courtesy of rawpixel.com

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