The idea of content marketing has been made to seem complicated and time consuming. While this may be true to some degree, it can also generate income that far exceeds the time invested to create it.
First things first, let’s clear up what we mean by “content.” You could say that a blank page has no content and a full page has content, but that’s not quite what we’re after.
In terms of marketing, content is material that a prospect truly and willingly wants to read, view, or hear. They might even be willing to pay for the privilege.
The reason they are willing to read it is because it addresses a problem they want to solve or a need they’d like to fulfill. It’s informative, entertaining, and interesting to the reader and it ultimately increases their interest in your product or service.
The Value of Content Marketing
The big difference between mere marketing and content marketing is value. In fact, sometimes I think content marketing should be renamed “value marketing” because what content marketing does is give your prospect valuable information.
It could be valuable because it’s entertaining. Or it could be valuable because it’s informative or interesting. It could be (and perhaps should be) all three.
The best definition of valuable content I think I’ve ever read lays out six points that make up valuable content.
It’s Not a Sales Pitch
When I said that content “ultimately increases interest in your product,” you might have thought that content is the same as a sales letter. Let’s not make that mistake.
A sales letter or a long-form landing page is usually short on content and long on sales copy—a sales pitch. It will contain a promise of benefit to the reader but is focused on a sale. Certainly, when it’s done right, it can create sales. When done poorly, the response is, “Ugh, another sales pitch,” followed by the sound of crushed paper and a three-pointer into the waste basket.
Content, on the other hand, does not overtly seek to sell. Rather, it draws the prospect in by focusing on an issue that interests them—making more money, having greater security, health, etc.—and shows how it can be solved or accomplished. A very small part of content marketing is the call-to-action—getting the prospect to contact you.
Content marketing prequalifies and develops the prospect. By the time they contact you, you don’t need to “sell” them on your product so much.
In his article “What is Content Marketing?” (as published on Forbes.com), Josh Steimle, of the digital marketing firm MWI, tells what effect even a little bit of content can generate: “95% of the success we’ve experienced with content marketing can be traced to a handful of articles I’ve written, adding up to perhaps 20 hours of work.”
100% Content Marketing
I don’t make a big distinction between marketing and content marketing because all of my marketing is content marketing.
We’ve produced more than 300 episodes of the “Ask Matt Lloyd” video series. Each one contains practical information for small business owners and entrepreneurs. It’s content—valuable information for the viewer.
We also produce many video case studies of MOBE affiliates—what walk of life they come from, the problem they were trying to solve when they started with MOBE, and how their life changed as a result.
And yes, these pieces of content promote MOBE and our products. They might contain links to a product sales page. But they are mostly content.
I won’t say that content marketing is a snap. It can take time to create or to learn how to create it, but the overall effects are worth the trouble. Those effects are:
- appreciation from your readers/listeners/viewers
- recognition as an authority in your niche
Well produced, valuable content positions you as an authority. This makes you a go-to person, someone that people trust and are more likely to do business with. The more you publish and the more routinely, the better.
I mostly use video, but content marketing can be done in any of the following mediums:
- blog post
- case study
- white paper
When I first started doing videos, I shot them on my phone. They weren’t fancy, but they were still effective because they imparted something of value to the prospect.
Content marketing and selling are not two different things. They are just two different approaches to the same desired result.
People don’t want to be sold to. When they receive sales messages, they mentally tune out. Content marketing is the act of giving your prospects and leads valuable information that they can use and will appreciate, which will move them closer to “buy.”
By publishing valuable content, you can establish yourself as an authority—someone who people trust and will do business with.