What Is Content Marketing: Definition & Basics

Do I need a content marketing strategy for my business? In a word, yes. You may have heard a lot about content creation and digital marketing in general, but no clear idea of how it would look for your brand or company. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be complicated.

What is Content Marketing?

First, let’s explain what content marketing is. If you’ve ever read a company blog, followed the Instagram account of a favourite brand, or subscribed to a newsletter, you’re already familiar with the concept. Simply put, it’s information packaged in an exciting and relevant way by a business to engage potential customers and create loyalty. But it’s not a sales pitch. Instead of intrusive ads that push conversion right off the bat, you’re developing a relationship with your audience. You attract their eyeballs by creating inspirational, authoritative, and entertaining content that keeps them coming back for more. Make no mistake – your ultimate goal is still conversion. But it’s a subtler approach.

So now you’re convinced, but where do you even begin? How do you get started with a successful content marketing strategy? The basics of any marketing efforts still apply. You’ll need to determine your goals, keep them realistic, identify the metrics you’ll use to measure your success and set a timeline to launch, evaluate and refine your technique. But that’s Marketing 101. What’s different about content marketing? What kind of content should you be publishing?

Answer Your Audience’s Questions

An excellent place to start is to figure out what kind of questions your target audience is asking that are related or adjacent to your product or service, and build your content around delivering the answer. For example, a meal box delivery might opt to publish a few of their weekly recipes online if they’re finding that prospective clients are curious about the quality and variety of the dishes offered.

Providing the recipe for free might seem counter-intuitive but remember: the value of their product lies in the convenience of the prepacked ingredients. For fence-sitting prospective customers, letting them see the delicious meals they could make might just convert them, no sales pitch required. In other words, what you choose to put out there should be interesting and value-packed, but still leave your readers wanting more

While the application of content marketing lends itself well to lifestyle brands, any company can benefit from this approach. Finance, accounting, or tech firms can establish themselves as leaders in their field by offering downloadable whitepapers or regular newsletters with industry insights. Service providers in HVAC, plumbing, and the like can upload how-to videos to help viewers tackle simple tasks on their own. The possibilities are endless.

Choose the Right Medium to Speak to Your Audience

Once you’ve honed in on the types of content you’re looking to publish, you can move on to how best to deliver this content to your audience. Written content is best delivered via email or a blog post. Short videos are a great medium for how-tos or explainers, while podcasts are buzzy and popular with the multitasking set – you can put one on for your commute or workout.

But the format is only part of the question. You have to find out where your prospective clients like to hang out online. Are they heavy social media users? Create highly shareable content on their preferred platforms. Are they looking for answers to their problems via Google search? Post SEO optimized articles and blog posts on your website. Do they frequent industry-specific sites? Familiarize yourself with these sites to find exposure opportunities for your content and brand.

Be Consistent (But Open to Change)

One or two pieces of good content isn’t going to cut it. Map out your strategy in a content calendar at least a few weeks in advance, so you’re prepared to produce quality work on a regular basis. Carefully monitor the success of each piece of content and be ready to pivot if needed.

Alternatively, the runaway popularity of a post is a sign you’re doing something right! Take advantage of your momentum to publish similar content.

Content marketing also offers opportunities to collaborate with other brands, cross-promote by engaging outside experts and expand your reach in ways traditional marketing can’t accomplish. Once you have the basics down, feel free to be creative and test out new content formats, different outlets for publication or unexpected topic material. You may just find a win where you never expected one.

In short, content marketing is your opportunity to tell your audience that you hear them. By creating relatable, entertaining, and useful content to target their pain points, you build a sense of trust and authority in your prospective clients. It’s a feeling that you’re not just here to sell to them, but that you’re on their side, offering solutions, support and clarity. When done right, content marketing helps cultivate the kind of relationships that brands dream about: ones that keep customers coming in and coming back. If that sounds good to you, it’s time to get cracking! Create and execute that content marketing strategy to reap the benefits for your business.

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