Unfortunately, by no means all companies understand content marketing. They see online content as little more than a technique for sewing keywords where the search engines will find them. Their content contains little of value to human readers, let alone any opportunities for engagement and dialogue. It may not even be intelligible (non-native copy writers are cheaper).
Real content marketing is a valuable way in which to build brand awareness, trust, loyalty, and market intelligence. To do this, it is necessary to share genuinely valuable information. It needs to be written with sincerity and know-how. In return, customers learn to trust your name, your expertise and your motives and, given the opportunity, they share their own in return. This helps you to understand your market, the products it needs and the problems it experiences.
At a certain point, your feedback becomes free content in the form of wikis, reviews and social media conversations.
Content marketing is not new
The internet may be relatively new in commercial terms, but content marketing was invented long before Sir Tim Berners-Lee started networking computers. An early example was the “Poor Richard Almanack”, a free journal distributed by Benjamin Franklin to promote his printing business. That was in 1732.
A more familiar example is the Michelin Guide, in print since 1900. It contains tips and guides for travellers, including routes, hotels, restaurants and car maintenance. It was intended to encourage driving at a time when there were very few cars on the roads and did far more to turn Michelin into a household name than its tyre sales ever did. The most groundbreaking feature of the Michelin Guide is that its growth depended on feedback from hotel, garage and restaurant owners and customers. It involved Michelin with its customer base to the benefit of both. That is how real content marketing works.
Content marketing goes large
In the past, content marketing required substantial resources. Benjamin Franklin already owned a press and the Michelin brothers had rubber plantations. Only with the advent of the internet did content marketing become feasible for small businesses.
Today it is almost impossible to promote your product without it, and globally the industry is worth around $400 billion.
Focus requires expertise
Even firms that have read the writing on the wall still struggle to understand it. Content marketing requires planning and focus to achieve specific, measurable targets. Any company investing time and money in a content marketing strategy needs data analysts alongside its creative marketers in order to extract market intelligence, measure the costs and benefits and realign strategies and priorities.
Getting the right content in front of the right people requires constantly updated intelligence as to where those people are, both geographically and in cyber-space. Are they using Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat? Depending on your business, you may even need to devise your own bespoke forums.
Blending content marketing with artificial intelligence is one way to control resource overheads and to ensure rapid responses to changing moods, topics and customer bases. A.I. can help you to discover keywords, find the right topics for blogs, or new product opportunities.
Content marketing is a long-term strategy that needs a highly skilled and dedicated team. At RC&A, we have the senior digital experts you need to build a content marketing strategy that works.
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