It’s almost 2019. Like most businesses, you’re probably thinking about and plotting how to do a better job marketing your business in the coming year. There has to be something that your competition is not doing well and that you can beat them at. You’re right. There is. Chances are that your competitors aren’t doing the most amazing job with their content marketing efforts. A lot of your competitors don’t even know what content marketing is.
This is your chance to start way ahead of the bunch and win big! Seriously. This is your chance to become the voice of authority in your market. You’ll boost your online reputation and increase leads. This is the perfect time to start planning for the coming year. This blog post could be a life changer for you and your business. Let’s dig in!
What is Content Marketing?
First things first. Let’s demystify content marketing and make easy like Sunday morning. Okay, maybe not that easy. Easy enough for you to comfortably understand it and feel confident about making it part of your marketing efforts.
In his book, Inbound Marketing, Justin Champion defines content marketing as a “strategic marketing and business process focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content.” Pay special attention to these adjectives: valuable, relevant and consistent. Those are the major keys to creating content that will attract, convert, close and delight your target audience. In a nutshell, content marketing enables you to sell without hard selling. Who doesn’t like that?!
Types of Content Marketing
If you’re wondering what this content marketing looks like in finished form, let’s discuss some examples. Let’s start with the most popular types of content marketing, in alphabetical order:
- Audio books
- Blog posts
- Case studies
- Interviews with industry experts or customers
- Podcast episodes
- Social media posts
- White papers
If you are wondering if you have to create all of the items listed above, the answer is no. It’s not realistic to immediately go that hard. Think quality over quantity. It’s better do a few things well. Think about which ones would resonate the most with your customer base and do those first. Think about your skill level. What can you do well? What can your employees do? Do you need to hire outside help?
Why is Content Marketing Important?
People are tired of being sold to. People want to be heard, educated, and delighted with relevant and valuable content. There is a lot of buzz in the digital marketing world that the traditional sales funnel model is no longer enough to convert customers. It has holes in it. It’s missing the human component of storytelling, delighting and enticing customers to keep coming back for more without badgering them with sales promotions.
The missing hole in the traditional sales funnel can be filled with great content marketing. The sales funnel is full of friction points. Friction points are opportunities for customers to become skeptical and bail. Customers are always asked to buy. Almost no one likes that. Content marketing is free of friction. It allows businesses to grow their sales by attracting, engaging with and delighting their customers via genuinely useful information. Customers and companies embark on a journey of education and smart decision making. This leads to purchases, referrals and repeat purchases.
Gone are the Days of the Good Ole’ Sales Funnel
The photo below was taken at Inbound 2018 earlier this month. Inbound is a digital marketing conference hosted by HubSpot. The company’s CEO, Brian Halligan, was one of the keynote speakers. He told the audience that the days of the good ole’ sales funnel and telling your customers why your products are better are officially gone. We are now in the better experience era. Customers expect companies to delight them with useful information. HubSpot has changed its approach to generating leads from a traditional sales funnel (left side of the photo) to a flywheel content marketing strategy (right side of the photo).
Content marketing is cost-effective. According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing costs 62% less than outbound marketing and generates three times as many leads. That’s huge! Let’s pause and really think about this. It’s a real win-win. You get to share useful information in your authentic brand voice and generate more leads.
According to HubSpot, most people spend an average of five seconds looking at a website before they decide to stay or leave. Five seconds! Customers will leave if your website content is not answering their questions. This is a lost opportunity, which can be avoided with relevant and valuable content. People buy from companies that provide exceptional experiences.
Companies that provide killer content are their customers’ s/heroes.
Content Marketing in Action
Let’s look at how content marketing can impress a customer out of their shoes. Tom is a regular guy. His car breaks down and is towed to his dealership’s service department. The car needs new coils and plugs and a oil pan gasket replacement. The total cost is almost $3,000. Tom is shocked. His car knowledge is shaky at best. He doesn’t know if the quoted cost of repair is reasonable or ridiculous. What should he do?!
Like most of us, he hits up Google. Like a helpful friend, Google serves up the most relevant search results. The first one is a snippet from RepairPal telling Tom about his type of repair and how much it should cost. This is exactly what he needed! Relief starts to set in. Tom is on the right track.
ReapirPal tells Tom how much he can expect to pay for his car repair. They don’t stop there. They educate him about coils and coil-related issues. He now knows how much he should pay for his repairs and is a more informed customer. That’s a powerful win for both sides.
Tom is provided the cost of related repairs. RepairPal is now his partner in car repair. All of this information is provide at no charge. It is super useful and free! How amazing is that?!
It gets even better! RepairPal offers the option for Tom to find car repair shops near him. He is most likely to do that. Do you think Tom will tell his friends about his experience? Where do you think he will go next time he has car problems?
One More Reason to Invest in Content Marketing
Google rewards websites with relevant and useful content. That’s a big deal. Google is the biggest search engine. Relevant content is displayed higher in search results. Content that best answers users’ questions is displayed as a featured snippet on Google. It appears at the top of search results. That’s the Holy Grail of organic search engine ranking.
What Should You Do Next?
Content marketing isn’t a “set it and forget it” endeavor. It doesn’t produce microwave fast results. It’s a long-term process of building a vast array of useful content. The time to start is now!
Five Things You Can Do Right Now!
- Read They Ask You Answer by Marcus Sheridan. It will change your marketing life.
- Make a list of 10-20 questions or objections you customers have. Decide the best format to publicly answer those 10-20 questions.
- Check on what your competitors are doing online. Are they doing content marketing?
- Set a marketing budget.
- Decide if you can do your content marketing in-house or if you need to hire a marketing agency.
The Bottom Line
Content marketing is not optional. The good news is that you can get started right away. It doesn’t take much. Doing the five steps listed above will put you way ahead of the game.
We want you to kick content marketing butt in 2019!