Content Marketing: Are you content with your marketing efforts?
I recently read an article on 5 Companies With Inbound Marketing Strategies That Work
and saw why these 5 companies were on the list: Salesforce.com, Cisco, Dell, GE and Starbucks. These companies have effectively used content marketing
to attract their target markets. From using social media to video documentaries, these companies have used content to show, in some cases, an emotional side and a ‘human’ side in others. Starbucks has created an emotional connection by interacting with its fans on its Facebook page and posting fascinating photos on Instagram while GE has added a more human face to its machines by highlighting the roles of its experts using Twitter.
What is Content Marketing anyway?
So, what is
content marketing and why do the companies we know so well swear by it as being the best marketing strategy in existence? Before we delve deep into definitions and uses of content marketing, here is a short video clip from the Content marketing Institute
(CMI) that shows how old this practice really is and how it has evolved over time.
According to the CMI,
“Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience - with the objective of driving profitable customer action."
The ending of the above statement…. "driving profitable customer action
" should not be misconstrued to imply that content marketing is meant to be used only by for-profit organizations; in fact, content marketing could be more beneficial to nonprofits and could be more easily executed by them than by for-profit organizations....what? Did I just say more easily
? Yes, more easily.
As Joe Pullizzi
of CMI puts it, for one, we as nonprofits have a positive cause that we are working towards. That in itself creates a willingness in people to be a part of the cause or social good since it is a form of intrinsic motivation
that drives them to donate or be involved without expecting any rewards in return (tax savings from a tax deductible donation could count as a reward but many people don’t donate just to get some tax exemptions. They do it for other motivations like a feeling of satisfaction that arises from acting towards a social good).
Secondly, the cause is a story
in itself which is what content marketing is all about! Why do you think the major name brands have a story associated with them? Whether true or otherwise, companies have created stories around their brands to make them more appealing. Consider this for instance, would you rather hear a story about how a loaf of bread makes it to your table right from when the wheat is grown, harvested and then processed? or would you prefer to see an image of the bread and hear a list of all the ingredients it contains? If a company just states what a product consists of exactly, it would create a pretty feeble marketing pitch wouldn’t it? Coming back to nonprofits, we do not have to sit down for hours with branding experts to create a story around our cause. All we need to do is seek testimonials from people we have helped and voila, we have a story that could touch a number of hearts.
So, how is content marketing done? Well, we at WebServes are doing it right now….through our blog! Other ways to do it include social media (Facebook, Twitter), white papers, video documentaries, SEO, newsletters, webinars, podcasts to mention but a few.
The main thing to keep in mind is that the content should grab the attention of the target audience by giving them value for their time
. The audience should be in a position to answer the question, ‘What can I take away from this message? What have I gained from the time I invested in viewing/reading this content?’
Benefits of Content Marketing
The following numbers from Mashable's infographic
tell it all:
1. It costs less than traditional, outbound marketing. Statistics show that content marketing costs 62%
less per lead than outbound marketing.
2. People want to be in control of what information they receive and this is evident from these statistics:
of people skip TV adverts
of direct mail is never opened
of email users have unsubscribed from a company email that they previously opted into
With content marketing, we earn the loyalty of our patrons without having to bombard them
with messages that will serve as spam to many. It is a classic case of a pull vs. push strategy; instead of ‘pushing
’ our messages out to the masses in the form of a billboard, we are ‘pulling
’ people in through our content.
For more numbers and an interesting infographic, check out this great article
Despite the high praise for content marketing, it is not a given fact that just doing content marketing will generate positive activity for every organization. The effectiveness of the messages being put out and their frequency plays a big part in making or breaking the content marketing strategy for your organization.
Some basic rules of thumb to go by when creating content are:
1. Have relevant
content. Posting about the weather every single day might not do you any good if it has nothing to do with your operations.
2. Have a frequency
of creating content to generate and retain interest. A good blog can only be read so many times but a series of frequent posts will create more traffic and thus more interest in your nonprofit’s causes.
3. Have open, two-way lines of communication
. Tell your story and be open to receive comments. In addition, if you are maintaining a blog, it would be a good idea to have guest bloggers from outside your organization who could bring in a whole new perspective.
In summary, a quote from the CMI serves as the best reason for the emphasis on Content Marketing; ‘If you’re not Content Marketing, you’re not Marketing’.