The buzz words these days are content marketing. But what exactly does it mean and how can a business implement its use to bring value to their customers?
Basically, content marketing is publishing information through various media outlets that will educate your customers. The benefit of publishing good content is that your targeted audience will come to rely on you as an information resource for their decision making.
It is important to understand that content marketing is more than just information about your products or services. It includes relevant and useful information that will be used to develop opinions about your business and help build a relationship with your customers.
Think about how often you search for information before making a purchasing decision. Your customers do the same, so it is important to position yourself to be a credible resource for them.
I’m sure you’re thinking “sounds like a great idea, but how do you go about publishing relevant content?” As usual, it takes some planning and the first thing you need to do is develop your content marketing strategy.
There are four main areas to consider: audience, media, timing and topic.
Who is your intended audience? This relates back to who your target customer is.
You need to understand your customers, what their needs are and purchasing patterns are. I tell my clients that you need to know your customers like you know your mother. What do they like and dislike? Who do they go to for an opinion prior to making a purchasing decision? Where are they located? What is their age, income and education level?
Once you understand your target customer, it is easier to determine what media to select, when you should publish content and what topics would be of benefit to your customers.
Where does your target customer go for information? Would they read a newspaper, look for online reviews, articles, videos or blogs? Do they reach out to their friends and families for recommendations? Would they like to get their information in an online newsletter?
If you are not sure, ask them when you see them or send out a small survey. Or just research the various social media resources and see who’s using them. By “googling” the various types of social media for statistics on who is using them you can determine the best media to use for your target customer.
How often should you publish? The medium you’re using will dictate how often you need to publish your content.
Twitter and Facebook could be several times a day, blogs at least weekly, LinkedIn can be every couple of weeks, and online newsletters can be monthly or quarterly.
Realistically, think about how often you can develop content and publish it. This is a big task and often it needs to be delegated or shared among several people. Starting a weekly blog may seem like a good idea at first, but remember there are 52 weeks in a year.
Most important, where are you going to find relevant content? After publishing for a while you can run out of ideas to write about.
Places to look for content are trending topics, newspapers, blogs or your customers’ tweets and posts. What are they talking about and interested in? This is where you can find topics for content that will be of interest to your target audience.
Remember, developing and implementing a content marketing strategy is a lot of work and requires planning, but the rewards can be tremendous. If you would like more information on how to develop a content marketing strategy, go to www.georgiasbdc.org to find and contact your nearest Small Business Development Center.
Laura Katz, MBA, is a consultant at The University of Georgia Small Business Development Center and specializes in marketing and business development. She may be contacted firstname.lastname@example.org.