"A type of marketing that involves the creation and sharing of online materials (such as videos, blogs, and social media posts) that does not explicitly promote a brand but is intended to stimulate interest in its products or services."
Most businesses struggle with the last part of content marketing. After all, what's the point in marketing if it's not promoting a brand and its products/services?
To understand content marketing, it's important to understand why content marketing has become so invaluable to the modern sales process. Consumers have changed, and how they research problems has also changed.
There are dozens of stats around, that show how much content consumers consume in their quest for the ideal product. Even without these figures businesses themselves are starting to notice the difference. Customers know more than they did before and are more informed on the alternatives. The reason for this is that there are more comparison articles, more influencer opinions, more articles analysing the problem, and more recommendations for solutions now then there ever has been before.
All of this 'stuff' falls under the category of content marketing.
Brands that can understand, own and create their own content become a sort of resource centre for potential customers. As they research their problem on your website they are nurtured towards finding a solution that fits. Crafted well content can do 70% of the work that a salesperson used to do.
The death of the salesman
Yet content marketing doesn't kill off the salesperson, it simply changes the role they play in the purchasing process. Instead of being sold to, consumers now want to be consulted on solutions. They want a trusted partner that can set aside their personal goals to find the root problem the customer is facing, and recommend appropriate solutions.
Content is also able to speed up a salesperson's sales process. Instead of answering the same questions and guiding a prospect through the same steps, content; like social media posts, blog articles and online guides, can help answer the customer's questions.
Content marketing is like an initial consultation. You're identifying the symptoms, as well as identifying possible pain points, and beginning to scope out a category of solutions.
In a famous sketch from the comedy series Blackadder, the hero (a term used very lightly) goes to the doctor and no matter what symptom is mentioned the cure is always the same: leeches.
Marketing can be very similar, prescribing a product as a solution without attempting to understanding the problem. After all, your product/service may not be the right solution for certain customers.
Content marketing also acts as a screening process for potential prospects. Understanding which topics they're interested in, how they interact with your social media, and the guides they download, will give you insight into what type of customer they're likely to be. This can help marketing qualify a lead before passing it on to sales, thus increasing the conversion rate of marketing-generated leads.
And if you're curious to see some great examples of content marketing at work why not check out our compilation of 32 enviable content marketing examples.
words by Thomas Emmerson
filed under content marketing