The term “content marketing” may be relatively new, but the concept certainly isn’t. It was way back in 1895, for example, that John Deere published the first issue of The Furrow, a publication now regarded as the grandfather of content marketing.
Rather than merely promoting John Deere’s products and services, the magazine offered relevant and valuable content to the farm equipment manufacturer’s customers (and potential customers). The thinking behind this marketing strategy is that if your company consistently delivers valuable content that isn’t purely promotional, customers will reward you with their business and loyalty. It’s a strategy that’s worked for John Deere for more than a century, with The Furrow’s circulation reaching a peak of four million consumers in 1912, and still attracting about two million readers to this day.
Nowadays, “content marketing” increasingly refers to online content, and Oxford defines the term as: “A type of marketing that involves the creation and sharing of online material that does not explicitly promote a brand but is intended to stimulate interest in its products or services.”
Types of content
You need to provide your target customers with material that’s relevant and valuable, but it doesn’t always need to be serious and informative. Where appropriate for your brand and message, content marketing can also be fun and entertaining. I remember, for example, a client once telling me the main reason she followed a corporate Facebook page I managed was because of its humor. At the Bradford Group, we recently even built a video game for a client, so there’s no limit to the sort of innovative content you can create. Here, though, are some of the most common types of content marketing:
- Social media – If your posts are sufficiently compelling for a customer to “follow” you, you can then lead that customer.
- Blogs – You’re reading one right now! We’re hoping that if you find this content of value, you’ll be more likely to continue engaging with the Bradford Group.
- Infographics – These present information in a visually interesting way, and can be made available online or as a printed hardcopy.
- Videos – Think of content that your target customer is likely searching for, and then provide that content in a well-made video, uploaded to your website or YouTube.
- Podcasts – It’s an increasingly crowded market, but if you can find your own in-demand niche, a podcast can be a great way to grow a loyal audience of potential customers.
- Webinars – These “seminars on the web” can help you establish a personal connection with the customers to whom you’re presenting valuable information.
- White papers and e-books – These are in-depth documents providing thought leadership on an issue or problem relating to your industry. Consider putting them behind a wall on your website that requires visitors to provide their email address before they can access the content.
Content marketing provides an opportunity for meaningful engagement with customers and potential customers, and you can design your content to support a range of strategic business goals. These include:
- Brand awareness or reinforcement – By discovering your content, customers will also discover, or be reminded of, your brand.
You can design your content marketing to support a range of strategic business goals
- Lead generation – After engaging with your content, a prospect might initiate a purchase. Or, they might be willing to sign up for emails or a product demo, which will allow you to continue the lead-nurturing process.
- Customer retention and upselling – Content marketing enables you to maintain a relationship with a customer long after you’ve made the sale. It also lets you inform them of additional products and services that may be of interest.
- Customer service – Going far beyond what’s written on packaging or included in a user manual, content marketing can provide information to help ensure buyers are always getting the most out of your product.
- Customer ambassadors – Every business hopes for positive word of mouth and online reviews. And, if your product and marketing – including content marketing – are truly remarkable, your most passionate customers might even start creating “fan” content on their own online platforms.
To learn more about the power of content marketing, contact us today.