Content Marketing 101
Just for Beginners
Did You Know...
Content Marketing predates the founding of America!
Yep! Way back to 1733...
None other than American Statesman Benjamin Franklin started publishing "Poor Richard's Almanack" every year...and selling it, of course! (Repeat sales every year...and repeat business for his other companies!) For my younger readers... it was published under the "pen name" of Richard Saunders. Ben was no dummy!
To the contrary, he was a very progressive — and wise — business person! He published the first American newspapers in several cities, and he also recognized the new "printing press" as something that would democratize books, making them available to more than just the elite. The modern "circulation Library" was also his invention!
Poor Richard's Almanack certainly fits with modern definition of "Content Marketing!"
Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
A Brief History of Content Marketing
A Short Timeline of Early Use:
Anyway... I'm sure you get the idea!
There was very little drop-off in the use of Content Marketing once businesses started to see how stories resonated with readers...and how eyeballs on stories meant eyeballs on advertising in these very same magazines...
Another lesson from this early Content Marketing history is this:
Every reader was highly targeted!
These magazines were all niche publications, so the companies publishing them could be assured that readers were highly interested in relevant advertising within their pages.
PLUS, the new concept of selling advertising to other companies generated additional revenue for every one of these magazines!
How & Why It Works
So...what is Content Marketing?
Content Marketing is nothing more — or less — than using "content" (typically text-based articles or tutorials on your website )to help solve a reader problem or challenge.
These can also be videos (think of YouTube "how-to" videos on everything from plant care...to auto repair...to remodeling...to 'better' makeup techniques!)
The subject matter — regardless of content format — is literally endless! It can be technical, fun, sports-related or just plain functional like "how-to" instruction.
Content Marketing "works it's magic" because it targets highly engaged and interested readers: these readers typically find your content (strategies) by searching for solutions to a burning problem in your typical search engine... (This is called "organic search" because it is naturally answering a reader question, based on their own search terms...and it's the best kind of search for you: it's FREE!)
It works because your content answers a specific reader question: it's highly targeted!
If You're New to Content Marketing...
It's important to understand — especially if you're new to this concept — that these content pieces are NOT selling products or services directly! You are NOT advertising directly.
There is a big difference between "marketing" & "selling!"
Selling is immediate & usually employs "urgency": "20% coupon only good this weekend"
Marketing is a strategy for the life of the relationship and is naturally long-term.
- It's often been compared to a "marriage" suggesting you wouldn't propose on the the first date...
- It takes time to nurture ALL relationships! This is marketing's strength!
- In the case of Content Marketing, it's your exemplary content that does the work!
Cultivating the Relationship...
Key Points to Remember:
- Readers are searching for specific solutions to a particular problem.
- At this point, they are in the "research phase" and many of them may not even believe a solution exists for their problem...
- They don't know about you or what you do...and they really don't care!
- They need hope & help!
Content Marketing offers you an opportunity to provide FREE potential solutions for specific and common reader problems.
Readers respond favorably because — if your solution helps them move past the current problem — you have established both trust with that individual reader and credibility, encouraging them to learn more about you.
The will likely see what other content (think: "solutions") you have to offer them and will be more inclined to browse your website.
Now...again for beginners:
Content Marketing is not an immediate traffic generator nor a "quick fix" of any kind. [If you need to generate immediate revenue, you are much better served to secure some coaching or freelance clients.]
Content Marketing works to help you establish a relationship with your readers; this in turn will build reader trust while you demonstrate your own expertise...
Over time this encourages readers to do business with you!
Remember who you are writing for...
It follows, then, that you are writing your content for humans, not search engines!
Google never opened their wallet or credit card to buy from you...and never will! Only real people do this! So you always focus your writing on what resonates with real people.
The Benefits of Content Marketing
For your readers...
Your readers can access your free content on their own schedule, when it's convenient for them...and without any hard sell or pressure.
They can also browse your other content, such as your About page, to understand your own backstory and your qualifications and values.
Ideally, you will have some sort of incentive offer to encourage your readers to opt-in to your own email list, so you can keep the relationship going with regular communication.
As I hinted at above, Content Marketing offers you a lot of benefits:
In short, you can see all of the benefits to you as a Content Marketer!
In Part 2...
In the next article in this Series, I discuss exactly what Content Marketing "looks like" and how to get started using Content Marketing for yourself...
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