As a marketing professional, you have worked hard at creating a marketing and social media strategy that heightens brand awareness, drive inbound sales leads, and promote all sorts of opportunities.
If you’re like many organizations, you are already doing some form of content marketing as well. There are different interpretations of what content marketing means, but the basic idea is to establish a connection and engage with your target audience, whether they are existing customers or prospective customers, without directly promoting your company, products, or services. In other words, you’re not clubbing them over the head with ads and messages that promote how great you are, rather, you are providing information to them which they will find valuable and improve their lives. It could be experiential content, written by bloggers who are eager to talk about their own experiences. It could be tips or ideas from experts in a field… anything that communicates something of value to your audience.
A great example is Sears. Anytime you walk through their stores, it seems you can’t help but notice their exercise equipment. For them, it’s not all about selling consumers a treadmill. Back in the day, a guy comes into the store, buys a treadmill, forks over several hundred dollars, pulls his truck up to the pick-up area, shows his receipt, the stock boy wheels it out on a dolly, helps load it into the truck, and away the customer goes. See ya next time when you need a new lawnmower. How many times have you done that in your lifetime?
Sears recognized that when shoppers come to their stores looking for fitness equipment, they are actually motivated to improve their health, perhaps lose weight, or maybe their doctor instructed them to exercise more frequently. Whatever the case, the equipment is the piece they need to help them achieve their goal, but they also need information and inspiration to stay on track with their objectives.
So, Sears developed FitStudio. This site provides expert advice from fitness professionals and nutrition specialists… free of charge!
Why would Sears do this? Simple… they want to maintain that connection with the customer long after the purchase. For many consumers today, they want more. By making all kinds of great content available on this site, Sears is providing additional value to customers to help them improve their lives. The writers of those articles are not promoting Sears or their products, they are sharing knowledge. This is really powerful stuff! Talk about an industry thought leader!
What’s really great is this… and think about this… when you see an article that draws your interest or arouses emotion, and in the Sears example is helping you improve your lifestyle, you are more likely to enjoy it and pass it along. You’ll share that article via e-mail or social media so that your friends, family, co-workers, customers, and business partners can all benefit. As a marketer, this is what you’re striving for… that added brand exposure that comes as a result of that great piece of content being shared by so many people. Most importantly, from a content marketing perspective, the article is not focused on promoting your brand!! However, people will notice that it is your brand supplying this great information!
What shouldn’t be lost in all of this is that high quality content is crucial! Research has proven… and it should come as no surprise… that stellar content that is a match for the intended audience is far more likely to resonate with that audience and prompt engagement. You can’t just put loads of content out there and hope for the best. Well, I guess you can, but you shouldn’t! Content that doesn’t resonate and is not engaging just sits out there and takes up valuable space. Talk about a waste of time and money!
There are very fresh and exciting platforms and tools that are now available on the market to help you with all of this. If you haven’t explored any of them yet, what are you waiting for?