There is a an awful lot of talk about the value of content marketing but what's important is the benefits it offers to businesses. It's one thing to be excited about something shiny and new but quite another to see it as a valuable tool that generates tangible results.
If you're looking for a real-world example of content marketing walking the walk, it's River Pools and Spas in Warsaw, Va. Like many businesses, the company was hit hard by the recession in late-2008 to the point where co-owner Marcus Sheridan wondered whether it would be able to survive.
When you're business relies on consumers using home equity loans, a recession and tumbling real estate prices are major issues.
To keep River Pools in business, Sheridan turned to content marketing, specifically a blog and videos. Keep in mind, Sheridan is a small business owner, not a writer or videographer. With effort, enthusiasm and energy, his efforts started to pay dividends as the company's Web site attracted more traffic and, along with it, more customers.
The more content Sheridan produced, the better River Pools performed when people did online searches. In time, River Pools had the most popular swimming pool Web site in the U.S, outpacing much larger companies.
The secret? Content, lots of content created by Sheridan that answered many of the questions asked by people who owned a swimming pool or who were thinking about buying a swimming pool.
In the process, Sheridan realized he could share his knowledge of content marketing so he started a blog in 2009 called The Sales Lion, which offers easy-to-understand insight and information to anyone interested in the power of content marketing.
Now a popular speaker and busy consultant, Sheridan said companies that have doubts about their ability to embrace content marketing only need to get their employees togethes, and then do a brainstorming session to discover about the questions customers or potential customers ask.
At the meshmarketing conference in Toronto last week, Sheridan said getting 100 questions from people within the organization is not only an easy task but it provides companies with a year's worth of blog material by simply writing two posts a week answering these questions.
The biggest lesson Sheridan offers is content marketing is not rocket science. It doesn't require a sophisticated marketing plan or a team of well-trained writers to generate relevant and interesting content.
Instead, companies can take advantage of content marketing by focusing on what customers are asking or need to know, and then creating a steady stream of content to meet those needs.
It sounds like a straightforward proposition but it does require commitment and someone to make sure the content flows.
But the results can be astounding. Sheridan said River Pools will have sales of $5-million this year but only spend $17,000 on marketing.