To all TLDR folks out there, let me start with the conclusion:
“You can’t sell anything if you can’t tell anything.”
— Beth Comstock, the Vice Chair of General Electric
That’s all there is to content marketing, not just in 2019, but in all the years passed and ahead of us (yes, I have a crystal ball).
To those willing to spare a minute to “one of those content marketing blogs,” buckle up.
What’s the Deal with Content, Eh?
In other words, what exactly is content marketing?
I’m not a fan of dry explanations, so I’ll make it short and juicy. Content marketing is strategizing, conceptualizing, creating, and distributing content that is valuable, relevant, and consistent across all channels. The goal IS to entice and retain a specifically chosen (targeted) audience. The goal is NOT to shamelessly advertise a product/service, but to ignite the spark of interest.
It’s a Value Deal
Content 101 is not in the books. It’s in the people it’s intended for.
Sure, every content marketing plan begins with a man in a suit (or a Hawaiian shirt) telling you it all has to be meaningful. But meaningful can be interpreted in so many ways.
To make it more specific, it has to tick the following three boxes:
#1. Is it useful?
Be the helping hand your readers need. In other words, guides, how-to videos (tutorials), case studies, whitepapers, best practice sharing, all fall into that category. You are creating value and positive feelings toward your brand in the minds of people. It builds your authority.
#2. Is it informative?
This type of content targets avid readers. Those who are hungry for knowledge and will not buy a product or book a service before they know all there is to it. You are in the role of educator here, and you should always keep in mind this group will rarely immediately convert after reading your content. But, if you provide valuable information they can use outside the world of your product or service, they will become loyal followers. And, conversion is the natural progression from that point on.
#3. Is it entertaining?
Remember P!nk’s “I’m not here for your entertainment?”
Good. Ignore it.
Entertainment in the content marketing world is pretty much invaluable in 2019. Going viral with your memes, videos, Snapchat and Instagram stories is the pavement for your success to walk on. However, never set out with the idea of going viral. Go personal instead, make sure your content can make 5 people smile, laugh, cry, any emotion you want, first. If 5 can, 500 can. If 500 see it but it’s blank, not even 5 will respond.
What About “Transportation?”
I mean distribution.
Okay, so you have your content, but where are you putting it? What roads are you using to “transport” it? Do your clients know how to find it? Are they even aware it’s out there? Well, I’ve already covered that topic before, and I don’t like repeating myself, so feel free to check it out.
An Ad in Disguise
The Trick Up Your Sleeve
Yes, we all know traditional advertising does not come in words. It comes in visuals and other artsy stuff like guerilla ads. With content marketing, however, content itself is the advertising. It is your own voice saying “Here, I’m not all about cut-and-dry ads, I actually want to start a meaningful conversation with you.” Blogs, articles, podcasts, videos are all better ways to advertise yourself in a subtle yet value generating way.
What is more, when you continuously develop quality content to educate and entertain your audience, you remain unaffected by extensions like AdBlock. In a way, content marketing is a safeguard against all your other ads failing to reach your target. Safety first, right?
What Content Marketing Isn’t Anymore
The Good Ol’ Days & Summer Flings
Back in the day, the classic marketing funnel was all about building awareness and creating a short-term relationship, a summer fling of sorts, with the client that ended as soon as they made a purchase. After that, they were pretty much viewed as “spent assets” and no followup action was made to retain them. In the past, services like content writing were not regarded the same way as today. Yay for revolution.
Today, content marketing has become this powerful binder that keeps clients and brands together. Nowadays, it is all about establishing an ongoing relationship. Take musicians, for example. Once they have bought a musical instrument from a manufacturer, this creates a connection through content. That musician might return to the website of the company and look for news videos, tuning tutorials, FAQs, and other types of useful content.
What about SEO in Content Marketing?
Did you really think I’d forget to mention SEO?
“Google only loves you when everyone else loves you first.”
— Wendy Piersall (Author, Blogger, and Artist)
Yes, you need keywords and all that jazz. But that’s just one side of it. Google ranks your content primarily based on the actions of others towards you. It doesn’t rank you simply because of your super-duper popular keywords. It’s much more interested in seeing that people search for, read, share, and engage with your content.
Keep in mind that…
Not all SEO writing companies offer content marketing. Some will simply take care of certain pieces of content, and that is far from what content marketing is about. Know what to expect if you are outsourcing your content needs, and always ask the people whose SEO content writing services you are using if they cover it.
A Little Something I Call HSEO
I know it sounds fancy
Speaking of SEO, I can’t stress this enough — sure, you need to make friends with crawlers so your content gets at eye-level for your readers, but don’t just focus on that. If you disappoint humans, who cares that you made some bots happy?
HSEO, therefore, stands for Human Search Engine Optimization. Has an odd ring to it, doesn’t it? Of course, it does, we are so used to having keywords, snackable titles, and proper formatting as a starting point that we truly forget what goes in between the lines.
Be better than that. Be better to your audience. In return, they will be better for you.