Content is what customers read online about your business.
Content Marketing is about giving your customer information they value. It involves a “pull strategy” where you motivate customers to actively seek out your brand because of the content you are publishing. You get the customer to come to you because the content you are creating is so valuable to them.
A small business example of content marketing.
A privately-owned toy store sold mostly to parents and grandparents. The store wanted to give its customers something more. They decided to write a weekly blog about upcoming children’s activities in their area. This included a detailed event calendar that was promoted in-store and on their social media sites. They began their own educational children’s events at their store and promoted those. They reported on missing children in the area and parent seminars on bullying and abuse. They eventually become the local “go-to” for what was happening that week for children in their town. Parents and grandparents depended on this toy store to provide valuable information and those customers appreciated that. In return when there was a birthday or Christmas present needed for their children, they bought from the local shop and told their friends.
What content should you create?
Start with a well thought out brand message. Develop a strategy around that message. An effective message is consistent, one that your targeted audience wants to hear, in a tone that will attract attention, educate, engage conversation and lead a prospect through the buying stage. Research key search words and questions typically asked about your business or product. Read your business reviews, customers will give you great ideas.
Where can you put your content?
Start with your business website. Then duplicate to your social media sites, videos, podcasts.
To help simplify things, two categories of content have emerged in the world of marketing; long-form content and short-form content.
What is long-form content?
Most consider the long format to be the primary vehicle for the practice of content marketing. Long-form content is rich, long and filled with research, facts, and stories. The purpose of this content is to educate, offer value and nurture a relationship that walks your customer toward lead conversion and eventually a purchase.
Because long-form content lives on such robust platforms, the content will be seen by people outside your inner circle and considered valuable enough to be passed along by your advocates to new adopters. This content should encourage dialogue, answer questions, attract future customers and urge return customers.
Google search engines will pick up long-form content.
This is a great thing because people who are outside your current social media community searching for your business will be able to find you and your content message. You need to attract search engines with keyword-rich content. Research your industry keywords and rankings.
Here are some examples of long-form content:
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What is short-form content?
Not the workhorse of content marketing. It is usually 140 characters or less, quickly consumed, and often not remembered. Most social media is in this category. Emotions play a larger role than an education here. Facebook is just one example of where short-form content lives. Emotional sharing on social media sites contributes to the awareness stage of buying rather than the consideration stage. Mostly due to format restrictions, the content your business puts on these sites is limited, therefore lacking in rich content for new customers to make a buying decision. Use these sites to reinforce your current customer base. They are great vehicles to strengthen an individual’s need to be part of a group or a bigger something, and therefore increase customer retention, repurchase, and advocacy.
Google search engines do not pick up short-form content on social media sites.
The content is contained inside the network site. So remember, what you say inside these sites does not get outside that social community unless an advocate from within shares it with a friend from outside. When you are writing for these social media sites remember to push the reader to your website where your brand content is rich.
Here are some examples of short-form content:
Whether it is long or short-form content. Ultimately, content is about delivering information that educates customers about your business and influences them to make a purchase.