What is content marketing and how can it help your business?

Today, few businesses can ignore content marketing as a way of growing your reputation, increasing sales and boosting your SEO. But what exactly is it, and why is it so important?

As a small business owner or freelancer with an ever-growing list of demands on your time, the thought of adding another marketing activity probably makes you want to weep. But the good news is that you’re probably doing some form of content marketing already.

Marketing consultant Paula Hutchings explains what content marking is, and how it can help your business or freelance career.

What is content marketing?

Content marketing basically involves creating or curating quality content that will acquire and retain customers, but without selling to them.

Consumers are so tired of the hard sell! They want brands to engage with them rather than talk at them. They whizz through TV ads, flick past magazine adverts and often don’t even notice promotional banners or buttons on the websites they visit.

Content marketing offers an alternative, non-interruption marketing technique that can help you connect with your current customers, and reach out to new ones. The idea is simply to provide valuable information on an ongoing basis (without any hard sell).

What is ‘content’?

So what counts as valuable content? It would be in the form of:

  • Blogs
  • Videos
  • Pictures
  • Infographics
  • Case studies
  • Tips and advice
  • Recipes
  • News

Seven ways content marketing can help your business

Any effort you invest in creating and finding great content to share is rewarded with loyalty, increasing traffic and, hopefully, more business.

In fact there are seven key ways a targeted, well-planned content marketing strategy can help you:

  1. It can be implemented even on a shoestring marketing budget.
  2. It boosts credibility and trust for your business and brand.
  3. It can help to influence consumer purchasing behaviour.
  4. You get referral traffic from other websites.
  5. It’s a powerful SEO tool to increase the visibility of your website.
  6. It creates a two-way conversation with both existing and potential customers.
  7. It establishes and communicates your brand/brand personality to help you stand out from the crowd. 

Innocent – an example of great content marketing

So who does content marketing well? Innocent drinks immediately springs to mind. Innocent may be a big business now, but they famously started out after selling their smoothies at a festival back in 1999.

Innocent do content marketing fantastically well and as a result, have recently been voted as the ‘most social’ brand in Britain. They cleverly use their packaging as a way of communicating with their customers. They also actively engage with customers on relevant social media channels – Facebook and Twitter (note: no hard sell).

This aspirational brand has a ton of great content marketing ideas on their website – ranging from videos, games, and pictures to competitions and more – all encouraging consumer engagement in a fun and interesting way.

Use Innocent as an inspiration to do it your way

You might not have the marketing budget of a brand like Innocent – but don’t be deterred. Looking at successful brands should act as inspiration for what you can achieve in your business on scale that you can afford.

So look around at brands that you admire, and start to notice their content marketing strategy. What do they do well? What can you replicate for your own business or freelance work? What great ideas are sparked from the examples you find?

Plan a content marketing strategy that works for you

The great thing about content marketing is that it doesn’t have to be expensive. If you already have a website, blog, newsletter or social media platforms all it involves is finding and creating new content to share on them!

A great way to be clever about content marketing is to set aside a block of time once a week or month, and devote it to finding and creating a bank of content to share over the next few days and weeks.

Just be careful about what kind of content you share. It should integrate with your overall marketing plan and be relevant and interesting to your audience, while achieving your brand and business aims.

Get started today

Feel inspired? Why not start planning your content marketing strategy today. A first easy step is to identify the audience you want to connect with, understand their needs, interests and problems, and start looking for or creating content that helps them.

Have you got a question on content marketing? Tweet Paula @MarketingVC or get in touch through her website. She’d love to hear from you.