By : Michael Hearing
December 17th , 2016
It's been around in some form or other for over 100 years, it works, and it's more cost-effective than traditional marketing. Content marketing (or inbound marketing) is a marketing technique that involves the creation, distribution, and sharing of valuable (usually free) content to attract and engage potential customers/clients – a clearly defined target audience – with the goal of eventually converting prospects into buyers and then repeat buyers. Inbound marketing, then, aims to offer content that the target audience actually enjoys reading, hearing, or viewing and, as a result, proves to them that you are the one they should do business with.
More simply, content marketing builds trust and relationships by providing value. And it works.
Content marketing works because it's not a hard sell. (Just think about all the jokes we make about the stereotypical used-car salesman.) No, the goal is instead to provide useful information in a helpful, enjoyable, shareable way so that readers, viewers, hearers keep coming back for more.
Inbound marketing, which can involve anything from blog posts to articles to pod casts to infographics, builds trust by positioning you as a helpful authority. Copywriters learned long ago that an ad presented as an editorial or an informational article will not be considered an advertisement. That's why long-form copy is still around and why it is still highly effective.
According to an article in Small Business Trends, "Content marketing is one of the most powerful marketing tools that a company can use. If done right, it can expand your influence, position your company as a thought leader, and win you more clients", says Jeff Charles in, "The Fundamental Reason Why Content Marketing Works". And it does this in a far more cost-effective way than traditional outbound marketing.
First, informational content costs far less to produce and maintain than advertisements. (Copywriters are expensive, and just think about the gamble and high cost of, say, Google's pay-per-click ads.) And, generally, the cost per lead garnered through inbound marketing is two to three time lower than that of outbound marketing. In addition, companies that use content marketing are three times more likely to see a higher ROI on their marketing efforts.
It takes some time, though. The results are not as immediate as those you might get, for instance, from a TV commercial featuring a football star endorsing a brand of shaving cream. But the shelf life and value-producing life of a piece of content is much longer. That commercial is soon forgotten, and the sports star could fall out of favor at any time.
A piece of content, though, just keeps working for you, and the value only increases over time – at no extra cost (unlike an ad). Your content stays live on the Internet to be discovered by potential customers for years to come.
There's an appliance store in our town that I've been back to many times to buy appliances and parts. I don't go anywhere else. Why? Because the owner spoke free content the first couple of times I went in. He patiently and at great length answered my questions – and didn't try to sell me anything. I saw right off that he was a knowledgeable authority who simply wanted to help by offering information (content). I became a customer and then a repeat customer – because I trust him. We built a business relationship based on trust.
And it all started with free, no-strings-attached information. That, right there, is content marketing.
Michael Hearing is an Oklahoma-based content creator and marketing copywriter with 20+ years of experience. Michael has been writing for Getblogpost.com's clients for 5 months. Photo courtesy of Gustavo Frazao/Bigstock.com.
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