How would you like to supercharge the effectiveness of your marketing without spending any extra money on advertising? You can do it by using content marketing, which will add a boost to your advertising efforts, much like a fuel additive enhances your car engine performance.
Not sure exactly what content marketing is? It's the creation, production and distribution of content in order to build relationships with prospects and clients.
Though it's a red hot strategy in marketing right now, using content to help increase sales is a tactic that's been around for more than 100 years. For example, tractor and farm equipment manufacturer John Deere published a magazine back in 1895 called The Furrow. John Deere's goal was to have the magazine become a trusted resource to the farmers who purchased the company's tractors and equipment.
Similarly, modern marketing experts like Jay Abraham, Dan Kennedy and Rich Schefren all publish a wide variety of content in order to position themselves as valuable and trusted resources. Here's just a sampling of the types of content they produce:
- White papers
- Interactive programs
- PDF reports
- Cheat sheets
- Case studies
Today, the first place consumers go when they want to find out more about a product or service is the Internet. They search for your product or service on Google or Bing and see what they can find. They're doing research to determine if what you sell is truly right for them.
This research isn't a bad thing—it's an opportunity for you to take advantage of. When you publish lot of valuable content about your company and your industry, you create multiple opportunities to share your product story, testimonials and case studies, and answer any questions your prospects may have.
That's why content marketing is often called "inbound marketing." Your advertising campaigns are considered outbound marketing—part of a traditional marketing mix geared toward broadcasting your message to the world. But inbound marketing gives control to the consumer. They can find out what they want, when they want. By creating valuable content, you provide the information they need so they grow to know, like and trust your brand, which hopefully leads to sales.
One of the easiest ways to begin marketing with content is to start a blog on your website. As a first step, write down every question customers and prospects have asked you about your product. Then, write a 300- to 500-word answer to every question. You now potentially have material for 30, 40, 50 or more blog posts. If you publish just one per week, you'll have enough material for several months.
Over time, you can turn some of the more popular posts into videos or podcasts. You can also compile several posts into a special report and give it away on your site.
As you get into the swing of providing information to your customers and prospects, you'll see more and more opportunities to share your expertise. Film yourself performing maintenance on a product, or create a setup guide for getting started with your service.
As you field more questions and create more content, more questions and comments will come rolling in—and each one is fodder for more content. Even information related to, but not specific to, your business is worthwhile and valuable content, like a company that sells charcoal grills providing a recipe for a marinade, or a software company offering tips and tricks for speeding up your computer's performance.
Your content doesn't have to be solely about the product or service you offer, but it has to be valuable to the people who would be interested in your brand and who are seeking expertise about your industry.
The possibilities for providing valuable content are endless, and the result is long-lasting: All this content will make customers more familiar and comfortable with your brand. And increased trust will result in more customers, more sales and more profits.
Charles Gaudet, aka "The Entrepreneur's Marketing Champion," is the founder of marketing consulting firm PredictableProfits.com. He's also a member of the Young Entrepreneur Council, an invite-only organization comprised of successful young entrepreneurs.
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