Content marketing is a quickly-emerging area of practice for marketers. It is emerging rapidly and will continue to be more and more important as time goes on. But before defining exactly what content marketing is, it is important to acknowledge the shifts in the landscape of consumer behavior:
- Consumers are no longer using the Yellow Pages to shop for things
- People are turning to Google, Bing and other search engines to shop for products and services
- Buyers are reaching out to friends and acquaintances on social networks to look for recommendations and reviews
If you ponder this shift in consumer behavior–especially the search for products on Google–the challenge of marketing becomes much different the old days of designing a yellow pages ad.
Content marketing is a term which refers to the development, production and sharing of content in order to attract and engage a specific audience in profitable activity. In short, content marketing is the practice of using information to gain customers.
Consider the first time homeowner who has a small hole in her drywall. Puzzled by how to fix it, she doesn’t even think of looking for a solution in the phone book. Instead she reflexively enters ‘fix a hole in my drywall’ in Google. If you are a marketer selling spackling paste, drywall saws, or home repair services, this represents a critical moment–an inflection point. The goal of your content marketing strategy should be to gain exposure to this consumer at this moment.
Content can take many forms. It can be anything from an article or blog post to a podcast or e-book. Content marketing can be facilitated on company websites, blogs, social networks, and user-generated sites like YouTube. Naturally, the specific vehicles chosen for a content strategy should be selected according to the audience itself. And similar to the tenets of search engine marketing, solid keyword research should drive the strategy.
Getting back to our example about the role of a hole in the drywall, marketers have many many ways in which to capitalize on content marketing opportunities. Brands like Home Depot or Lowe’s might create home improvement videos containing these search terms. Makers of spackling paste like DAP might create instructional guides or blog posts about how to fix these holes. Sears/Craftsman tools might create a home improvement podcast and feature this as a topic. And all of this content can be shared and referred by customers on social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
Scenarios like these are real examples of actual opportunities that marketers have to use content to sell products. If marketers take a concerted approach to content marketing, they have the potential to not only acknowledge the big shifts in consumer behavior, but be well-positioned in the eyes of the consumer at the exact moment when they are needed.