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What is Content Marketing and Why Should I Care?

While content marketing has been around for a long time, in our current digital marketing vernacular, content marketing has taken on a specific meaning. It is the practice of providing valuable information to your target market – through a blog on your website and social media – in order to help new prospects become aware of your company and your product or service offerings.

The term “valuable” is critical: your content must serve the needs of your audience(s). Valuable content answers your audience’s questions and provide relevant insights that they can’t get anywhere else. Your content should showcase your company’s unique expertise, but not by talking about your company. Instead, talk about your customer’s situation and think about how your content can help them, not about how your company can help them (just yet). Helpful content can include things like tips, checklists, trends, processes, industry or project insights – things that will help your customers be more successful in the things they’re trying to do. 

Content marketing is not selling

Content marketing is not selling or merchandising – it’s helping. Selling comes later. By understanding your audience and their needs, and providing content that helps meet those needs, you position your firm as an expert in its product or service category, and build awareness with new potential buyers. Those who find your content to be relevant and helpful will reach out for a sales conversation.

The mechanics of content marketing are as follows:

Content can include articles, videos, infographics, ebooks, podcasts, white papers, and other similar materials. The goal is to build a library of materials that will help your prospective customers in their consideration, buying, and implementation journeys.

You can promote your content through search and social media to build exposure for your program and accelerate the distribution of popular or time-relevant pieces.

Again, you are not selling. What you’re doing is demonstrating your company’s unique viewpoint and helpful, supportive operating practices by being a source for information that answers your prospective customers’ questions.

What do I get out of it?

You will receive benefits for your efforts. We all know that buyers these days thoroughly research your company online before initiating contact. Content marketing is the way to make your company more findable and increase the perception of your expertise. 

How content marketing makes your company more findable

Organic search (SEO) effectiveness is driven by content. The more valuable, relevant content you have on your website, the more your company will be viewed as an authority and your rankings in organic search results will rise. [Note: there are other factors to SEO as well; simply having a content library is not by itself a panacea for SEO performance.]

Other benefits include increased awareness in your target market, stronger website traffic, word-of-mouth awareness via social sharing, more sales leads, and a nurturing flow that helps keep your firm top-of-mind for people who may be further out in the decision cycle. 

Why have companies of all sizes adopted content marketing?

In short, content marketing is the modern way that marketers build awareness with new customers. When you have enough strong content that people find valuable, you will increase your position in search engine rankings and attract more prospective customers to your website. Even when initial awareness is driven by advertising, content marketing helps you demonstrate your expertise in a way that can turn more visitors into sales leads. 

We’ll be diving deeper into content marketing in this series of blog posts to help you familiarize yourself with the basics. Next up: Content Marketing: Where do I start?

Charles Ogden, Co-Founder and CEO of Antics Digital Marketing, has a 20-year background planning and guiding content marketing programs for companies such as KPMG, PayPal, Sun Microsystems, SAP, Shutterfly, Actavis Pharmaceuticals, and others. His work in content marketing began in 1996 when he and Antics helped Netscape Communications design and run the world's first largescale email newsletter programs. While content marketing has changed since then, the foundations of its benefits go back much farther and Charles continues to help companies advance their business through content. He views his work as an extension of his degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University, which he'll discuss if you're curious.

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