When I launched The Clever Catalyst, 2 and half years ago, it wasn’t meant to be a full-fledged digital marketing company. It was meant to focus on Content Marketing. Growing up a writer and a loner this seemed the most practical to me. I wanted to convey thoughts and information with words that were persuasive, honest, and direct. And possibly, more importantly, I wanted to skip the one thing I detested the most; selling myself and my business.
As the years passed, however, my mind changed - as it often does - and here I am offering book layouts, magazine design, search engine optimization, website design, and even paid search ads. I am in every sense of the word a digital marketer.
This, of course, is not a bad thing. I’ve grown as a business, we’ve added talent that has experience in areas I didn’t, we studied, we practiced and we grew together. I am proud of being a digital marketer but I am still a writer. My heart is still with content marketing and it will probably always maintain its status as my favorite both as a marketing service and resource!
Because content marketing is POWERFUL stuff! Content marketing is EMPOWERING. However; as with all good things, content marketing is a horse of a different color. So let’s jump into what exactly content marketing is, what YOU can start doing today to better your content marketing and why you should even care in the first place.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is just another form of marketing. Where it differs from traditional marketing is that there are no gimmicks. There are no calls to action. There are no pitches. There is just content. Content created for and directed towards a specific audience.
To what end? You may ask. Simply to educate, inform and establish authority in the industry. Content marketing is simply meant to feed an audience the food of information. Now, of course, that sounds awfully utopian, doesn’t it?
Well, content marketing is still marketing in the sense that the content while meant to serve a specific audience (and while not selly) is also meant to increase some sort of marketing activities.
Many people will start blogs, for example, and provide helpful tips based on their expertise to an audience of interested readers for free.
Out of the kindness of their heart.
To enrich the lives of those reading.
And for the website clicks!
*full disclosure this is one such blog*
Content marketing is a little like the friendly neighbor that has a crush on your but respects that you have a partner so they just stay friendly and really helpful with extra cups of sugar and carrying your packages upstairs for you and such until such a time you are in the market for a new partner. At which point the hope is you will think of them after their months/years of friendly service and kind demeanor.
Common questions that come up immediately after explaining the concept of content marketing are:
Does it work?
If it doesn’t look like marketing how will they know it’s marketing?
Doesn’t it take way longer?
Is it more expensive?
All great questions but let’s first address does content marketing work.
Does Content Marketing Work?
Short answer - yes. In fact, growth rates of businesses with content marketing strategies have sales more than 30% higher and often pay much less per customer! But how? There are a few common theories.
Overwhelming consumers want to find the information they are looking for themselves. They want to research a company before reaching out to them and they want to compare and contrast options. If your site/social media feed/ blog etc are not giving them the information they are looking for they will pass you up for the next company that does.
The more you are showing up in your potential customers’ lives the more they will trust you. If they’ve seen your brand appear in their social media feed every day for months, and they’ve read several of your blogs and visited every page of your website these people are going to feel like they have an idea of who you are and what you’re about.
This matters! It is becoming more and more important to consumers to have a personal connection with the brand they buy from. Trust can make or break a sale.
This one is one I haven’t seen talked about much but is easily my most-common complement on content marketing and it’s that it gives the customer time.
Big flashy click funnels are great and can be very effective but they are very much an act now situation. When you are creating consistent content marketing assets and providing them in relevant channels you are giving all these potentially interested parties time to think about it, time to mentally figure out the logistics, and emotionally prepare to bring another person into their business.
This also matters! And it matters a lot more in specific industries. For example, I work exclusively with small and very small businesses. There is no market I can think of timider than that. I have literally seen the difference between smacking a call to action at the bottom of an email vs a friendly goodbye.
And so has my bank account.
Does Content Marketing Cost More Than Traditional Marketing?
This depends on how you calculate the cost of your marketing efforts. If you are calculating the cost of producing a blog versus the number of conversions you will get from the said blog - then yes. It will always be more expensive. You can buy clicks for less than the cost of a blog. That’s a hard fact to get around.
However; as mentioned above the cost per acquisition of a new customer using content marketing is often much less. You often also require less time in the schmoozing/sales process because these customers typically come more educated about you, your services, and your opinions.
Clients acquired with the help of content marketing are also often much more committed than customers acquired via traditional methods. Why? Probably because of the previous point, they become more educated after a longer period of contemplation with usually with a pretty good feeling that this working relationship is already going to work.
And then there’s reusability.
Content Marketing is the gift that keeps giving!
Content Marketing is also infinitely reusable. If you pay to produce a blog, that money isn’t finished producing leads for you when you hit publish. Not only does that blog live on your website collecting clicks and readers for all of eternity but it can also be picked for scraps and used in countless other places; like:
social media posts,
examples of work done,
and the list goes on and on.
If you pour that same money/time into a Google Ad you will get clicks - yes - but only while you are pouring money into it and you cannot utilize that ad or its components anywhere else.
So what can you do as a small business owner to increase your content marketing efforts?
Content marketing is content produced for a specific audience.
So you have your audience already. That's your target customers, your customer avatar, key demographic, or whatever else fancy marketing word you want to use here. The people you are trying to attract.
Now you just need the content AND the channels to deliver said content. The content can any number of things. It can be useful social media posts, it can be informative blogs, it can be educational videos, or it can even be good old-fashioned brochures and/or flyers. The kicker is it has to contain content that would be relevant to your audience.
Keep in mind the channel! If you're creating this content to be presented on social media be sure to design the content specifically for the platform. Producing content before knowing where to deliver it isn't necessarily the worst but it most certainly isn't ideal. Different platforms require different sized images, file sizes, and have different audience expectations.
Here are some examples of great content marketing plans.