Today’s buyers are savvy. They don’t settle. Companies must earn their business and they’re not shy about going elsewhere or voicing their unhappiness. Technology has served as a catalyst for this attitude by making it easier than ever for buyers to find alternatives or use social media to express their views.
The number one way companies succeed in this marketplace is by earning their customers’ trust. And how does a faceless business earn trust of individuals with thousands of different needs and perspectives? Yes, content marketing.
While historians point to Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanac as the first example of content marketing, modern content marketing is technically an adolescent. Publisher, Penton began using the term in 2001.
Content marketing has grown out of a shift in our culture; created out of the rise of technology and companies’ need for a way to earn trust. It serves many different business goals from raising brand awareness to moving prospects along the buying cycle to retaining current customers and re-engaging past customers. Key to its success is storytelling. It is only at this point in history that brands big and small have had a need to share who they are and why they do what they do, in other words, to put a face on the faceless business.
Content marketers with thriving practices do a few things well. First, they create a clear, written-out strategy that works toward specific, measurable goals. The strategy needs buy-in from all of the stakeholders and an understanding of which goals the strategy can achieve, and which is will not.
Second, they are powerful storytellers, or have hired some. Painting a picture for buyers, whether it is about the business and its values or about a specific product’s benefits, is essential. Think about a favorite book you read or movie you watched; the creators made you feel something. Storytelling in business works the same way and people hunger for it. It establishes a fondness for a brand that keep customers coming back or convinces a prospect that a product will solve their problems.
Third, they are versatile. There is no one size fits all in content marketing. Having the ability to think across the spectrum of communications tools, understand the value of each one and select appropriate options for each audience segment is key. Content marketers must be able to tell the story in a variety of media. A video will work for some, while others within the buying cycle need more detail through a white paper or research study.
Finally, they aren’t afraid of change. “Because it’s always been done that way” is not in a content marketer’s vocabulary. Content marketers are constantly evaluating, daily, weekly, monthly. Is their audience right? Are the tactics they are using the best available choices? What’s new in the field? They use the answers to these questions to tweak tactics or messaging.
The discipline of content marketing is thriving today and it’s because the field is an essential way for businesses to convey a sense of trust to their customers and prospects. Content marketing professionals in the field take a scientific approach to this art form to succeed.