Content Marketing: Attract and Retain Customers Through Education
Consumers are tuning out traditional forms of marketing. Think about how many people you know (maybe yourself included) who have DVR programming just to ignore the advertising on television. When playing “free” games on a smartphone, you’re accustomed to look for that tiny white ‘x’ as soon as the ad pops up. Some of us even buy the full version of the same application, just to avoid the advertising distractions.
It’s a whole different ballgame when you’re surfing the web and see “Tips and tricks for cleaning hardwood floors” or “10 ways to add value to your home;” articles that actually educate the reader, rather than trying to sell them something.
Welcome to the world of content marketing.
What exactly is content marketing?
“Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”
Take note of the keywords “relevant and valuable content” and “objective of driving profitable customer action.” Without the words ‘relevant’ and ‘valuable’, the meaning changes. Read the definition one more time.
Now you’re educating your target audience rather than blatantly trying to sell them something. By consistently creating relevant and valuable content, your audience will see you as a trustworthy source of industry information, and buy your products or services when they need what you’re selling.
Let’s take a look at how content marketing came to be, and the brands who’ve been successful by offering information to their consumers.
Content Marketing is NOT New (brands have been telling stories for over a hundred years):
- 1895 John Deere launches consumer magazine called The Furrow, which now has a circulation of 1.5 million, published in 12 different languages.
- 1900 Michelin develops “The Michelin Guides,” a 400-page guide to help drivers maintain their cars and find decent lodging
- 1904 Jello distributes free recipe books that lead to sales over $1 million by 1906
- 1930s P&G begins radio soap operas with brands such as Duz and Oxydol, hence the “Soap Opera”
- 1950s Magazine revolution and rise of television
- 1982 Hasbro partners with Marvel to create the GI Joe Comic Book leading to revolution in toy marketing
- 2001 “Content Marketing” is used in Cleveland, Ohio. That same year, custom content spending nears $20 Billion
- 2004 Facebook is born, Microsoft launches first major corporate blog, “Channel 9”
- 2005 YouTube is born; LiveVault’s John Cleese Video goes viral
- 2006 Social Media is Growing Rapidly: Twitter is born, Facebook opens to everyone, Google buys YouTube for $1.65 Billion; and American Express launches Open Forum
- January 2008 P&G’s content site BeingGirl.com goes live and is found to be 4 times more effective than traditional advertising; by that May, “Get Content Get Customers: The Handbook for Content Marketing” comes out.
- By 2009 the average company spent $1.8 million [per year] on content creation and distribution
- 2010 The iPad and Content Marketing Institute are born, and 25% of marketing budgets are spent on Content Marketing; 88% of all brands use content marketing
- 2011 Content marketing spending in the UK nears 1 Billion Pounds; Facebook reaches 600 Million users; CMI Launches Chief Content Officer Magazine in print and digital; CONFAB the Content Strategy Conference premiers; Google Plus launches; WordPress now powers 50 Million blogs
As you can see, leading brands have been using content marketing strategies for over a century. Cookbooks, periodicals, video series and social media have provided vehicles for companies to deliver educational information to keep their audience engaged, rather than spending all of their marketing budgets on advertising that is easily ignored.
Where to Start?
Blogging. These days, everyone has a blog associated with their website. If you don’t, it’s time to create one. WordPress is amazing for this (hence the reason they’re powering more than 50 million blogs).
Don’t blog about yourself (i.e. brand, services or products). Blog about How, Why or When to do something (related to your brand) and the benefits of doing something. For example, if you’re selling hardwood flooring, don’t rant about your flooring and how much it costs and why it’s better than your competitor’s flooring. Tell a story about hardwood flooring and how homeowners can get the most out of the flooring they currently have. They will look to you as a source of information, since you’re helping them out with tips on how to care for their home. When they realize their floors are ready for a refinishing or restoration service, they will buy your services because they trust your expertise.
For any questions or concerns about content or online marketing for your company, don’t hesitate to contact us. We provide content for many San Francisco Bay Area clients and can help you, too. Don’t have a blog set up for your website? That’s ok, just give us a call at 510-276-9902 or fill out a contact form here on our website. We can get your blog up and running so you can start educating your audience and attracting customers, rather than scaring them away.