The Lowdown on Content Marketing

You’ve heard it before. The marketing landscape is so saturated with messaging that peaking through the deluge is next to impossible.

Small businesses—especially ones with major brand competitors—are at even more of a loss. Why shop at your locally-owned shoe store when there’s most likely a mall, or a DSW right down the street?

This question often makes marketing feel like throwing money at the wall, with the only true distinction between you and the major brands being, quite simply, that you’re local.

Yet, let’s add up some elements here. Millennials are quickly becoming the largest share of the consumer marketplace. For their entire lives millennials have been assaulted by brands selling products, images, and ideas that oftentimes don’t connect truly to their lives.

There’s tons of great reading that shows the millennial generation wants a deeper experience than just being told there’s a discount. Millennials are also attracted to integrity and causes.

This is where content marketing comes in. Here’s my definition of the term, though it varies slightly depending on who you ask:

Content marketing is a tactic used by companies to sell a piece of media as much as their product or service, with the goal of associating your product or service with that media.

What does this mean, exactly? Well, content marketing comes in many forms, such as the written word (blog posts), video, audio (podcasts) and more. But, it is an indirect form of marketing.

Take the local shoe store example. A well written and SEO-enhanced piece on “The Top Five Winter Hiking Boots in 2017” will give the reader some content they are interested in. Yet, with a well-placed call-to-action that leads them to that shoe store’s website, this business owner will be seeing more customers visiting their website not through a direct sale, but because your store becomes associated with the subject.

The inner dialog of the potential customer will probably go like this:

Oh look! An interesting article! Mostly interesting because I’m in the market for new winter hiking boots.

*Reads Article*

Ahh! Some of these look great! But where can I find something for me? What’s that? A link to a website that presumably sells winter hiking boots? Why not check it out!

Your business is not promoted by some flat ad that many millennials have seen all their life – that lead is drawn by interest specifically in a subject you are a provider for. Then, they are drawn to your site or store as a qualified potential customer.

The great part about content marketing is that it’s shareable, most obviously on social media. Many times, millennials (as evidenced in the link above) focus their purchasing habits on those of people like them, either friends or peers.

Now the thing is that effective content marketing is a skill that can take years to craft. It takes about as much time being an effective content marketer as it does being an effective writer, which for many is a lifelong undertaking.

This is why using the right professional writer can mean the difference between sticking out and drowning in the sea of advertising you’ve been fighting this whole time.

It’s new, it’s developing, and it’s effective. Small businesses need to find a way to tell their story, because increasingly that is what is truly important for millennials and beyond.

Content marketing is about staying relevant, creating impact, and ultimately generating more qualified and convinced shoppers. In a world increasingly flooded with mindless bargain ads and snappy television commercials, content marketing is proving itself a must-have in any business-owner’s marketing strategy.

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