What is content marketing?

Content marketing has become a well-used phrase but what is it ?

The phrase ‘content marketing’ was something I first heard a few years ago but the ideas behind it are what I have done for my entire adult life.

As a radio presenter and journalist I spend most of my time creating, curating and sharing interesting media content in order to build and serve an audience.

Think of your favourite radio station. You like it because it does something for you, whether that’s playing your kind of music, keeping you updated with the news or providing stimulating conversation.

Content marketing works in the same way as media companies have done since the first newspaper was published in the 17th century.

Why do it?

Steve Randall - Media Consultant

For a media company this building of an audience through content is the business model, monetized through subscriptions, advertising, product sales and (increasingly) events.

But what about your business? Why would you bother with content marketing?

Media companies are using product sales and events for larger shares of their revenue because the proliferation of the internet has seen subscriptions and advertising revenues come under pressure.

You have perhaps traditionally spent your entire advertising (and marketing) budget on newspapers, radio, TV, cinema, magazines, billboards, etc.

While these platforms still have value – and direct mail can also still work – today’s consumers are faced with vast amounts of advertising and other brand messages.

Meanwhile, they are consuming far more media… and spending hours a day on social media.

If you were to create media for your customers – your audience – then your engagement with them could achieve far better results than advertising.

Defining your purpose

This is about why you are doing content marketing. It could be to retain existing customers, attract new ones, build awareness among a new type of customer, launch a new service or product range… you will have your own reason(s).

Once you know why you are doing it, you can define who your audience is.

Building your audience with content marketing

build your audience with content marketing

This is not about selling. This is about serving the needs of others. So with an idea of your audience in mind, you must identify what their needs are.

What do your target audience struggle with? What can you do to help them save time and/or effort?

If you were an accountant, you might find that a large share of your clients make the same mistakes time and time again, for example miscalculating dividends. A simple ‘how to’ guide would benefit those (and potential new clients).

There are endless examples of content that could work for all kinds of businesses.

I’m not saying you should give away all you trade secrets but showing that you understand your audience and helping them is valuable. It also helps demonstrate your expertise.

Be consistent

Content marketing is not a ‘quick fix’ for your business, it’s a long-term strategy.

While you could create a piece of content, a video for example, which goes viral on YouTube and gives you some exposure, that in itself is unlikely to bring the kind of deeper relationship with your customers and potential customers that you want.

For content marketing to work you will need to commit to doing it regularly.

That doesn’t mean daily or even weekly necessarily, but a consistent commitment will work best.

Boost your social media with content marketing

Using content marketing with your social media

Most businesses now use social media but often with limited results.

A big part of the reason your social channels may not be working well for you is a lack of content.

Posting generic comments like “Lovely day in [TOWN] today” is unlikely to do much for you, although posts like that are made every day!

Posting a link to a valuable piece of content you have created with an audience in mind would work far better.

Here’s an example:

If you were a hairdresser, you could post still post “Lovely day in [TOWN] today” but follow it with …. “Great day to consider a new style. Check out our guide to the hottest cuts …..” and a link to content you’ve created on your website.

Posting content that is useful to your audience works really well on social media – but you need to have it in the first place.

Yes, you could share things created by others but something that’s yours is far more valuable.