For millennia, business owners have understood that building goodwill with customers is crucial to success. From inn keepers in ancient Rome to software firms in present-day Boston, entrepreneurs have found ways to show that they care. How? By offering helpful advice, providing free entertainment, furnishing a meeting place for the community, or lending a helping hand. Anything to demonstrate that they care about people and are not simply out for their money.
Too often, marketers forget this lesson. The pressure to get customers in the door fast can be all-consuming. It can seem like there is no time to build relationships with the people you serve. But failing to do so is a big mistake. That is where content marketing comes in.
So what is content marketing? I would define it as any marketing that adds value to customers’ lives without requiring them to pay for the pleasure. Content marketing is blog writing that is helpful, entertaining, and well-targeted to a company’s demographic. It is a funny meme that goes viral and that relates back to a company’s products and identity. It is a Facebook community for outdoors fanatics or new mothers. It is a series of how-to videos that strike a chord with YouTube users already looking for a certain type of product.
Content marketing can subtly, or not so subtly, promote your company’s product. But that is not its main purpose as far as your audience is concerned. Its main purpose is to entertain, inform, or connect your audience to things and people that matter to them. And then to help make it easy for them to learn more about your services (a.k.a. giving them opportunities to move through the sales funnel).