When advertising as a small business, it's easy (and important) to keep in mind the mantra of "go where the audience lives." This often means targeting social media circles and promoting paid ads in places where your prospective customers are most likely already spending their time. And while this is important, it is only one piece of the marketing puzzle.
A truly comprehensive marketing program also needs to draw an audience to you, building an engaged community around your brand. Content marketing and organic search, the method of associating your brand with relevant topics in order to boost your search engine rankings and attract prospects that are looking for your goods and services, is the perfect complement to a robust paid strategy.
Best of all, content marketing is an affordable method even when outsourcing, and of course doing it in-house keeps costs down even more. Here are a few basics of content marketing that can help get you started boosting your brand right away.
Converting highly motivated leads
While paid advertising tends to be aimed at determining where to reach your customers, content marketing is focused on bringing your customers to you. By creating a blog or content relevant to your audience, you can attach keywords to attract traffic to your website and enter the conversion pipeline.
"Brands that are providing content are putting themselves in the best possible position for growth. Providing your consumer with value in the form of content is one of the best ways to attract audiences," said Michael Berean, CEO of Grace Innovation, a marketing agency. "However, it is important that brands provide content from a place of sincerity because consumers can see right through you if you don't. You have to really give in order to receive."
The leads that encounter your content are likely already highly motivated, or at least interested in learning more. By presenting these leads with content, you've now presented your brand as a potential solution, and created an opportunity for a qualified lead to engage with your brand further.
Cultivating loyalty and prestige
Content marketing is more than just a conversion tactic, though. It's also a brand-building method. By crafting and deploying high-level, intelligent content, you don't just attract motivated leads, but you project your brand as an authority in the space. In content marketing, it's as much about prestige and image as it is about capturing leads.
A content marketing strategy is comprehensive and complex. It takes more than a standalone piece of content to execute an effective content marketing strategy, but one good piece of content will reflect upon your brand. In addition to boosting your reputation as an authority on the topic, a solid content marketing strategy will cultivate customer loyalty amongst those who have already successfully partnered with your brand. They will continue to see you as the unequivocal expert of your craft.
A word on highly regulated industries
Content marketing is also extremely useful in highly regulated industries that do not have every conventional avenue of advertising available to them. Consider the rapidly growing cannabis industry in the U.S. Companies are generally highly restricted (if not outright prohibited from) directly advertising on radio or television, especially when a significant part of the audience might be children.
Luckily for these industries, content marketing skirts those restrictions. Because the users finding your content have searched for it, and there's nothing illegal about creating informational material, companies in sensitive industries are able to successfully drive traffic despite the advertising restrictions they might face.
Content marketing is a very particular strategy, and it takes a great deal of planning and labor. However, if you partner with an experienced content marketing firm, or you develop an effective strategy in-house, it can deliver a high return on investment while also contributing to brand building efforts. Best of all, content marketing is focused on capturing leads that are already interested in your product or service, rather than casting a wide net and hoping a few pairs of intrigued eyes land upon your costly paid advertisement. With a strong content marketing strategy, all roads lead back to your webpage.