There are many different ways for a business to grow and become successful. Marketing has been an invaluable tool in this regard, with content marketing becoming a strong driver that business owners can work with nowadays. In today’s modern setting, it distinguishes itself from more traditional marketing methods thanks to the accessibility of the Internet, which gives consumers a prevalent online presence at all times. This gives them the ability to select their favorite products with little fuss and this is where content marketing becomes most useful in leveraging your customers.
Yet some people can’t seem to get the hang of how to effectively use it in driving their business forward. But before we can discuss how to use content marketing and the best practices in implementing it, we have to first analyze its potential and see what exactly it can do for you and your business.
Storytelling as a Tool
People love a good story.
In fact, this is the kind of yearning that brings people together and moves them towards a common goal or sentiment. Going as far back as the beginning of human history, people have been exchanging stories around campfires, over picket fences or even via email. And it is those who have the most interesting stories to tell that are the most remembered and applauded by their peers.
In today’s marketing landscape, the ability to tell good stories can be a most valuable tool when it comes to building your business. This can be seen in the way that certain brands just have a way of “sticking” to you when you try remembering your favorite clothing store or your favorite ice cream. This kind of powerful brand recall makes a product much more effective within its respective competitive market.
Case in point, let us take the story of a little known brand named Apple into consideration. It cannot be denied that its products have redefined the way that we look at smartphones, music devices and personal computers today. However, they weren’t able to do so because they were always the first to arrive at the party, so to speak.
In 1998, the market for personal computers was very competitive, with Microsoft flying high thanks to its flagship Windows software setting the trend. However, amid the popularity of its rival, Apple introduced its sleek and trendy iMac to the public. It was able to stand up to Microsoft due to the way it was able to market the iMac for both its form and functionality. Where else could you get a self-contained system that could easily work out of the box while looking so pretty with its teal colored exterior? It addressed the issue of having to use a clunky personal computer and not having to deal with a mess of wires just to get it to work. This became a favorable product for first-time computer buyers and sales for the iMac skyrocketed.
Since then, Apple began to tell a story of innovation and the breaking out of new ideas that can challenge the market. This is evident with the way that many of their marketing campaigns focus the theme of “being different” or “breaking boundaries” – a creed that its former CEO, Steve Jobs, constantly advocated. Its brand began to gain so much momentum that the amount of trust that people began to place on it and its products was nothing short of amazing.
The next decade saw renewed vigor from the company as it moved on to dominate other market categories with the iPod and the iPad. Nowadays, many people find it inconceivable to go about their day without their trusty Apple products.
The story of Apple may seem like a fairy tale to many, but it is something that we can definitely learn from. By taking in the moral of innovation and then creating strong content to support the product or your service, success is certainly an achievable goal as long as you aren’t afraid to face the challenges that confront your business.
While all certainly stories have a bit of embellishment to them, it’s important to remember that you shouldn’t blatantly flaunt your own story as a way to push your brand. All stories, even fictional ones, have a grain of truth to them and this is what makes them more credible in the eyes of your audience. Good stories are simply a way to promote a reliable product or service that already exists; it’s just a way to get the word out that you have something great that you want to share with others.
What Can Content Marketing Do for You and Your Business?
Take note that content marketing isn’t some magical pill that you can take to instantly improve your business. Just in the same way that content is worthless unless it is compelling and focused towards your readers, content marketing is only effective if you are able to build rapport and trust with your audience over time.
Still, there are many advantages that content marketing has over other methods of brand and business building. Because it uses presented content as its foundation, it can be very comprehensive with the way that it delivers your message. By creating quality content, you can actually train your readers to take specific actions that can help drive your business. Of course, it takes more than just a strong call to action to get people to subscribe to your site. Ultimately, people are still looking for quality content that either solves their problems or entertains them – if it can do both, then even better.
If your content is consistent in the way that it is presented to your audience, they will willingly seek you out and look for more of the same kind of content goodness. This eventually builds a rising level of trustworthiness as well as a good reputation among your readership. After all, everyone trusts someone who can answer their questions and can be relied on to address their needs. Again, creating quality content focused for this express purpose can serve you well in promoting your brand.
Sadly, gone are the days when get rich quick schemes come fast and easy. If you want a good payout for all your efforts, you have to be prepared to play the long con. Content marketing can pave a very lucrative road for you to travel on. It does require a lot of effort on your part, but it also provides stability in terms of customer loyalty and brand recognition.
10 Step Content Marketing Checklist
Copyblogger outlined ten small yet effective steps that you can implement to run an effective content marketing strategy.
- Don’t Build on Rented Land – You need to be in complete control of your brand and building a ones means that you need to own it. For one thing, you can’t exactly own your personal brand if it’s hosted on someone else’s domain. This is why you need to secure a domain where your company’s site can be easily found. There are many inexpensive content management platforms (like WordPress) where you can easily set up shop and store your content.
- Craft Your Cornerstone – So what exactly makes your content unique? By creating topics that interest and engage your audience you will be able to attract your audience’s attention and get them to come back to your site for more. This is where playing to your strengths can be advantageous to your campaign, especially if this will become the signature that your brand will be known for. A good amount of this kind of content (around 10 posts or so a month) will help you pick up that much needed steam to drive your business forward.
- Make Your Content Worth Reading – The discussion of what makes content good is certainly a broad topic. In its essence, you’ll know your content is good if you are able to attract a solid readership. Hooking your audience though can certainly be difficult, but if you are able to craft solid content – from the headline to the actual meat of the content – then you know you’re on the right track. Check your readers’ reaction for feedback and remember that this is where good storytelling comes into play.
- Give Your Content a Secure Environment – Once you have your own domain, make sure to invest in a robust security system that can protect your content. Taking your web host security seriously is something that you shouldn’t neglect. Fortunately, many CMS software have robust security that can be easily set up and maintained. Also, don’t forget to look into the SEO side of things as well. Becoming the victim of negative SEO tactics can have adverse effects on your brand, so make sure to check up on this from time to time as well. After all, you wouldn’t want all your hard work flushed down the Internet’s toilets.
- Don’t Give Your Content an Ugly Place to Live – Looks do matter, especially if you want to your site and your brand to have that professional look. As shallow as it sounds, many readers are simply turned off by cluttered and amateurish design and won’t really take the time to read your content if they think the design looks like rubbish. Because it is so easy for today’s Internet crowd to select the type of content that they want to consume, they can be very critical and picky when it comes to the little things like your site’s design. Investing in a premium theme or design isn’t all that expensive, especially if the benefits in the end are well worth the price that you’ll be paying.
- Create Content that Attracts a Wider Audience – The next step after identifying and capturing your audience is to think about new channels with how to market your content. Testing the waters to see how your audience reacts to new things is a great way to see how you can expand your market and your brand. This will set things up for bigger easier scaling in the future if it all works out. Alternately, it can help you make any necessary adjustments to your campaign if you see that there are a few things with your content that needs to be worked out. Of course, you should still use your cornerstone to leverage your strengths and continue to follow all the best practices.
- Build an Email List Sooner than Later – Reaching out to your audience directly can help you work that marketing funnel than simply pumping out content on your site. This is also a good way for you to train your readers by offering them exclusive content that is only available via subscription through this list. Aside from deepening your relationship with your audience, you will also be able to tailor fit content that is targeted to your specific mailing list subscribers. Just make sure not to overdo it and inadvertently spam your audience through your actions.
- Create Content on a Larger Scale – Once you’ve gained enough confidence in your brand, evolving yourself by making content on a larger scale is the next logical step. Explore new channels like joining or conducting interviews, setting up webinars or do guest posting. Just imagine how many more leads can open up once you’ve decided to move forward.
- Don’t Go Too Long Without Making an Offer – Don’t forget that content marketing is still marketing. Don’t be afraid to make that pitch to your audience by offering content that your audience actually wants. Creating a clear call to action on your landing pages or by writing premium content is a good way to go about this. If you’re still a little gun shy in doing this, just remember that as long as you are able to produce great content, then your audience will willing seek you out for more of the same.
- Go on Social Media… Once You’ve Got Something – This is the final step you need to take to ensure that your content marketing campaign is able to take off. Social media has become the new campfire where people gather and share stories. Sadly, there are those that make the mistake of doing things the other way around and use social media to try and push their content onto their audience. What they don’t realize is that by creating a good product first then telling your customers about it after, they will be the one who will end up marketing your product and telling stories about it in the end.
Sometimes, the best stories are the ones that we tell ourselves. We convince ourselves that the brands that we stick to are the ones that can never fail. This is why we as consumers can be fanatically loyal to the products that we subscribe to.
In this regard, this is the reason why content marketing can be such a powerful proponent that can change today’s landscape if used properly. We as marketers can become the greatest storytellers of our time, telling people far and wide that we can be problem solvers as well as entertainers with the kind of content that we can provide for them.
In the end, if you want to build your audience, then make it a point to gain your readers’ trust and create a strong relationship based on that. It is only then can you create a story that will carry on your legacy and drive your business down the road to success.