A few thoughts, and tips, on content marketing
Content is all the rage in marketing right now. Gurus urge us to “give away information until it hurts,” or “create compelling content that’s so good, people would pay for it if you weren’t handing it out for free.”
Some economists are even putting forth the notion that content is a form of currency in our increasingly web-crazed world.
Creating and distributing consistently amazing content is a herculean task, although a lot of brands are doing an awesome job at it. Hubspot, a software company specializing in inbound marketing, is particularly good at generating reports people just HAVE to have. GE has received ongoing kudos for its innovative use of social media platforms like Vine. And American Express’ small business unit is known for being an oracle of really useful stuff.
Thing is, content marketing isn’t new; it’s just been named. Newspaper ads as far back as the 1930s offered free booklets, kits and the like (advertising legend John Caples pioneered the idea). B2B marketers have always had a schoolgirl crush on content—hence the ever-present white paper or report.
But, there is an important difference in the content of yesteryear vs. now. Way back, content was designed to give you just enough info to get you enticed and wanting more… but it stopped there. Content was used as a teaser or enticement, because, ultimately, brands or products wanted you to buy something. If you wanted the full load of information or benefits, though, you had to pull out your wallet.
Nowadays, however, companies are willing to give away trade secrets, helpful facts, lots of how-tos, infographics and industry insider gold to reach potential customers… connect with them… forge a relationship… earn loyalty… and grant the buying process a long, happy, prosperous life.
To me, it not only helps to be creative with your content, but also how you deliver it. Many industries, especially in B2B, tend to fall back on the tried-and-true case study or white paper. These are good, but they are FAR from the only way. Consider…
- A drip email campaign with hotlinks to helpful info
- A weekly blog with senior management or even employees contributing (guest bloggers can work, too)
- A video channel on YouTube or a video library on your website
- Information graphics, freely distributed and available for reuse, anywhere
- PowerPoint presentations on SlideShare
- Guides, manuals or kits
- Special reports, distributed to current clients or prospects (some marketers go so far as to put a price on the front cover to give it a perceived value—even though they have no intention of charging for it!)
- Apps (a GREAT way to keep people engaged for the long-term)
- Surveys (get people to participate in a compelling industry topic, then share the results)
- Article links or reprints, transcripts of speeches from industry leaders
- Podcasts, vidcasts and infomercials
- Teleconferences and webcasts
Of course, it always helps to know your audience like the back of your hand—and deliver the content in a way they’ll find and be receptive to it. But it can be incredibly rewarding to experiment and try new delivery methods no one in your industry has tried yet. Remember… the information beast likes variety and is never satiated!
– Andy Badalamenti is the creative director for CI-Group