You’ve probably heard the buzz about content marketing, the latest “big thing” in business.
While it’s an excellent method to attract new sales and create loyal customers, there’s a lot of conflicting information surrounding the discipline. Before you can effectively establish a content marketing plan, it’s essential to move away from the buzzwords and hype and take a strategic view of how content marketing can become an asset to your business.
What is content marketing?
Content Marketing is the practice of informing and educating your target audience to gain influence and loyalty while boosting sales. It’s also known as digital marketing, online marketing, inbound marketing and custom publishing but, for the most part, it’s all content marketing. It comprises three tactics essential to gaining influence with the consumer market:
- Original Content – Creating information about your products and services to demonstrate your expertise and establish your authority in the marketplace. Popular content types include websites, blogs, videos, newsletters, brochures, buying guides, product comparison sheets, customer success stories, industry reports, infographics, articles (both online and print), news stories, and anything else that helps tire buyers make purchasing decisions.
- Social Media – Building communities of customers and prospective customers where you can distribute your content and gain referrals. The most popular forms of social media for business are blogs, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Other social channels include Pinterest, YouTube, Google+, Slideshare, Instagram, Flickr, Vimeo, etc.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – The practice of making your content attractive to Google and other search engines so your content, including your website, appears in search results of your potential customers.
Why use content marketing?
It’s no secret consumer behavior has changed. Tire buyers want to educate themselves and are resistant to traditional marketing activities like radio and TV commercials and print advertisements. They’re suspicious of broadcast activities but trust information – content – presented in a way that helps them make informed decisions without a hard-sell approach. Importantly, consumers are searching for this information online and are increasingly reliant on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. To influence the modern consumer, tire dealers must provide the information they want in the places they’re searching.
Perhaps the best reason is because, according to Hubspot, the cost of generating leads using content marketing techniques is 61% lower than traditional techniques like broadcast and print advertising.
What's in it for you?
Investing in original content creates a long-term business asset. Websites, videos, blog posts, customer success stories and the rest of the content you create continues to attract new sales to your business for as long as it contains relevant information. That’s not true with traditional activities like advertising and public relations, which require a continuous spend to achieve results.
What's the downside for business?
Without doubt, there’s been a lot of confusion and misinformation about content marketing and what it can do. First, it’s a strategic undertaking requiring three different tactics, none of which are effective in the long-term without the other two. It’s incredibly easy to dedicate time to one tactic like social media or SEO but, without original content, you’re going to have to continually drip-feed money on some form of online advertising to keep traffic coming to your website.
Second, it’s a slow-burn method of marketing. You don’t see immediate results but a consistent execution of a content strategy works like a locomotive, you build steam in the beginning then it’s hard to stop the organic traffic coming to your website and the word-of-mouth referrals from your online communities.
Lastly, SEO is becoming less and less effective as a tactic because Google continues to change their algorithm to favor original, high-quality content. Businesses that have relied solely on SEO in the past to deliver traffic to their websites are experiencing increasing costs to deliver the same results and this is a trend that will continue.
Taking the next step
Before you rush into content marketing, take a few days to think about what sort of content you already have available. Is your website up to date? Can your print brochures be converted into online documents? Do you have social media profiles that are being neglected? You might be surprised to find out what you’ve been doing for a long time is content marketing. Now is your chance to figure out how you can maximise past investments. Channel some of your advertising budget into publishing original content and start building long-term content marketing assets.
Matthew Walker is the Managing Director of Tireweb Marketing, a digital marketing agency specializing in the tire and automotive industry. Tireweb Marketing provides online marketing products and services for tire dealers, including Ezytire and TirewebLocal. Mr. Walker can be reached at 212-634-4846 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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