Any business relies on marketing to attract new leads and convert them into customers. Marketing is also used to engage existing customers in the hopes of selling them more products and services. This is how businesses sustain themselves and grow.

j0216013Not that long ago, marketing involved a combination of print media, radio ads, TV ads and other low return strategies, often depending on the available marketing budget. The cost of these forms of advertising went from expensive to VERY expensive, oftenwith dismal results. Then along came the internet, first with web sites and then social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Suddenly, the cost of advertising dropped to almost zero and the internet became THE advertising media of choice.

Today, if you are in business, you are on the internet. But so is every one of your competitors. The question now is: “How do I stand out from my competition?” Most businesses today recognize the importance of ranking well on Google for some set of keywords relating to their product or service. The strategy used to be creating a website that had a magical sprinkling of those keywords so the Google crawler would “get” what the site is all about and rank well for the chosen keywords.

But Google has always said that content is the most important element of a site and that content should be unique and informative to the reader, not the crawler. Well, with their latest “Hummingbird” search engine release, they seem to finally be making good on their word. Sites that had engaged in keyword stuffing and shady link building tactics are now finding their sites have dropped in the rankings, sometimes quite dramatically. Google hasn’t changed what they want to see on websites, they’re just better at identifying quality content versus keyword spam and other tactics that were designed to game the system.

Enter Content Marketing.  The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as follows:

“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.”

In a nutshell, what this means is that you must now provide useful and unique information to your customers and prospects in an ongoing way without directly pushing a sale. You need to demonstrate that you are an expert in your field, educating your readers about what it is you do and how you do it. This has several benefits:

  • Google likes it. I could stop here, but…
  • Your readers will come to trust and respect your business, increasing the likelihood of a sale
  • Your business stays on the minds of your prospects and customers
  • Your search engine ranking will improve

I can already hear many business owners groaning about having to learn new technologies, having to write more content and burn more of their precious time tending to social media. It’s a little like the late nineties when businesses were groaning about having to do a website. Like it or not, this is how it is, so you need to adapt or fall behind.

So the challenge now is how to be successful with content marketing. There are many elements to a good content marketing campaign including:

  • writing quality, compelling and useful copy on your website
  • blogging
  • social media presence
  • video

Each one of these elements is worthy of a discussion on its own, and well, that’s what we’re going to do! Stay tuned to this channel!

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