What is Content Marketing and Why You Need It

Alan Coote
Content and Development Director
TL;DR - No time to read it all, get the highlights!

Content Marketing is a strategic approach that focuses on creating and publishing valuable and relevant content which attracts and retain customers, grows your business, increase sales and boosts the value of a company’s brand.

Unlike traditional advertising - no one like adverts getting in the way - Content Marketing provides valuable information that consumers are actively looking for, making it an essential tool for businesses like yours looking to establish their brand visibility, enhance customer engagement and build trust.

Content Marketing is essential for businesses who want to differentiate themselves from the competition, increase sales and foster long-term customer loyalty.

Content Marketing is very different from advertising. No one watches YouTube or goes onto social media to watch the adverts.

Content marketing allows your business to attract new, profitable customers through creating and sharing your valuable content. This content is exactly the opposite of adverts; it's not skipped or avoided; instead, it's an integral part of people's enjoyment, interests, and education.

Successful content marketing strategies seamlessly integrate into people's social media timelines, inboxes, search results, and online listening and viewing. Content Marketing, therefore, increases customers' awareness of your business, the brand, and the products. By regularly publishing content, you'll be at the forefront of people's minds when they need you and because you're building relationships, customers get to know, like, and trust you.

For small business owners, standing out from the competition is essential. Content Marketing boosts your brand's visibility and establishes you as an authority in your industry. This will, of course, significantly increase your sales. You have 100% control and it’s very cost-effective.

Content Marketing can take many forms: social media posts, videos, blogs, downloads like tips guides, white papers, case studies; behind-the-scenes images and videos, podcasts, online tutorials, courses, and many more.

The advantage Content Marketing has over traditional advertising, for example in the press, TV, and radio – and I’ve sold advertising in these areas – is you have 100% control, you get to know instantly what is working and can adapt accordingly. Business owners used to say 50% of my marketing is working, I just don’t know which 50%. This isn’t true with online Content Marketing.

If you want to get started, or maybe you’ve already dabbled and want to improve, here are the three steps you need to take.

1. Know your customer

If you want to get started, or maybe you’ve already dabbled and want to improve, here are the three steps you need to take.

If you’ve seen, heard, or read any of our content then you’ll know that marketing starts by knowing your customer. Specifically for Content Marketing, look to see what their pain points are at each stage of their buying journey and then how your content can help them.

Most people go through three stages before making a purchase:

Awareness Stage: Your potential customer becomes aware of a problem or need and discovers you as a possible solution. Therefore, educate your audience about their problems or needs and introduce your brand as a potential solution and leader in the space.

  • Content Types: Blog posts, infographics, online video, social media content, informational and educational videos, eBooks, etc.

Consideration Stage: You need to help potential customers evaluate how your products or services solve their specific problems or meet their needs better than any of your competitors.

  • Content Types: Case studies, how-to guides, webinars, comparisons between solutions and products, detailed product demonstrations.

Decision (Purchase) Stage: The customer decides to purchase your product or service over others. Provide reassurances needed for the customer to choose your product or service over others.

  • Content Types: Customer testimonials, product reviews, FAQs

There are a couple of other stages in the customer journey when content marketing really helps: Retention and Advocacy, but we'll cover those another time.

2. Assess where you want to get to

Content Marketing is a strategy as much as a solution. Where are you now and what are the steps to take to get where you want to be? Because Content Marketing covers a wide field, you’re likely going to need help working this out.

By working with a Content Marketing company like Monogram Media, you’re going to get honest advice and guidance on what’s best for business. Many times, we’ve stopped customers from wasting valuable time and money on Content Marketing that won’t work for them or be sustainable.

We look for three things; sustainability, uniqueness, and reach.

  • Sustainability is the ability of a Content Marketing plan to be maintained. Today’s social media algorithms and search engines reward consistency. Content Marketing works best if maintained over a long period. We look for Content Marketing solutions sustained by a business over an extended period of weeks, months, and maybe years. This doesn’t mean continually spending on creating new content; reusing and renewing previous content can be very effective.
  • Uniqueness is essential in today’s competitive landscape. Having a team of creative people who can generate new and innovative ideas gives you a huge advantage and massively stacks the deck in your favour.
  • Reach is the number of people and decision-makers who will likely see and then engage with the content. From reach, we can determine other figures such as costs per customer and choose the right Content types and Marketing channels.

For some businesses, email is right, for others, educational videos and blogs, and for others, podcasting can provide the required reach. It’s often the case that each piece of content can be reused across multiple channels. For example, this blog has been turned into 10 videos and social media items. Each of these is used multiple times before being refreshed.

3. Plan and allocate your time or budget

A huge advantage of outsourcing your Content Marketing is taken care of for you. From ideas generation, content creation, and publishing, the whole process can be done by a specialist company like Monogram Media.

The budget required is dependent on the time and resources used. Remember, top producers already have all the skills and knowledge required as well as invested in professional equipment and tools needed.

As an alternative used by many small businesses is to use a Content Marketing Company for some of their requirements. For example, Content Marketing strategy and planning, idea generation, writing scripts, recording, editing, or publishing. This hybrid can work well as your business maintains closer control, reduces costs, and fills specific skills and knowledge gaps. However, you’ll still need a plan as without a plan you’ve planned to fail.

My strong recommendation if you’re using a hybrid solution or doing it all yourself is to employ an experienced Content Marketing agency like Monogram Media to help you with your strategy and create a Content Marketing Plan.

A few hours spent getting this right first will save you thousands later.

A typical plan will identify the following:

  • Which channels are best suited to your business – email, web, social media, etc.
  • The content needed for each channel - audio, video, images, and written.
  • The publishing schedule.
  • How each piece of content can be re-factored for use across other channels – e.g., video scripts turned into blogs, tuning videos into multiple social media posts, etc.

Remember Content Marketing is for businesses aiming to distinguish themselves in a crowded market. It’s different and often better than traditional advertising because it informs, educates and entertains new and existing customers. This builds trust and establishes your brand as an authority in your industry.

Begin your Content Marketing journey, start by understanding your customer's needs and where you want to be.

You can either hand all or just a part of your Content Marketing to an agency. Either way, by collaborating with a skilled Content Marketing agency, you’ll remove the risk of expensive mistakes and reach your goals quicker.

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