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What Exactly Is Content Marketing?

Yoga and meditation author and instructor sitting cross legged with her dog on her lap in a cosy room ready to teach a class
Clare Connelly Wellness - Youtube Content

Content Marketing - You hear it everywhere these days, but it's a fair question to ask "what does it actually mean?

Well luckily for you we're here to give you the brief lowdown of what Content Marketing really is, how it differs from other forms of digital marketing strategy, and why it might just be the silver bullet you and your business have been looking for.

So How Does Content Marketing Differ From Other Forms Of Marketing?

Let's start at the beginning shall we?

Traditionally, there were adverts. Simple. And way back in the day that would solely be in print, then radio came along, then TV etc.

These were adverts through and through. You knew it was an advert. It didn't pretend not to be an advert. It was largely transparent in its approach (besides the usual psychological trickery) and generally just presented the product in question, raved about how good it was and detailed why you desperately need it in your life.

Then along came celebrity endorsements. Michael Jordan famously made an enormous amount of money for himself and Nike in creating his signature shoe line. Here brands were moving away from solely advertising to you directly and listing a product's benefits, and instead began piggy backing off the profile of popular public figures to lend credibility and desirability to their offer. And this was/is all very effective, but quite expensive and certainly not something smaller players could ever hope to employ.

Fast forward a few years and we enter the age of the internet and social media. Suddenly the court of public opinion has a lot of swaying power. Online reviews, star ratings and everyday, down-to-earth people (later dubbed influencers) begin driving purchasing decisions. People don't want to take a brand's word for it anymore, they want to hear from someone who has used the product and whom, over time, they have learnt to trust.

Brands quickly cottoned on to this, and before long, seemingly authentic and unbiased opinions were being bought and paid for, and new legislation was introduced that stipulated a "paid promotion" label was applied to content wherever money had changed hands. And although influencer marketing continued to be very effective, like all the above strategies in their own way, the shine was somewhat taken off.

Consumers are savvy. We increasingly dislike being advertised to, and material coined as "authentic", (like the loosely entitled "reality" TV shows), seem less and less authentic as days roll on. We now know that the influencers we follow and enjoy watching online are being paid good money to say they like something - so how trustworthy does their supposed opinion really feel anymore?

And so we enter the age of Content Marketing.

Now don't get me wrong, this is not a new phenomena. Many have been employing this strategy for years, and to great effect. But as other forms of marketing lose their grasp of consumers' trust the era of not marketing at all has blossomed.

Because that's essentially what Content Marketing is.... not marketing. At least not directly.

Instead of putting out an "advert", or getting an influencer to tell their followers to directly buy your product, you just put out content, for free, that people will choose to engage with.

Give away your advice, your secrets, tips and tricks that your customers want to know and are actively searching for. Give it all away. Ask nothing in return. Post videos, blog posts, articles, books, social media content, whatever! Do it a lot, do it consistently, do it with generosity in your heart and a desire only to help your ideal customer with nothing reciprocated.

And essentially what this does is make you knowledgeable and like an all-round good egg.

Alright... But Why Is Content Marketing Effective?

Content marketing is effective because it builds your brand.

You may ask, "but if I'm giving away all my know-how and secrets for free then no one will hire me." - but this is not the case.

By producing content that displays, not only your knowlege and your expertise, but also you, as a human being, as a real person with whites in your eyes, you set yourself up as an expert in your field and a personality that your customers will want to engage with.

The idea is to create touch points with your customer. They may watch 10 of your videos, read 10 articles and occasionally like a handful of your social media posts before you even know they exist as a potential customer, but when they're finally ready to make a purchase, who are they going to call? Some random company on Google? Or the expert and personality that they have been interacting with for months?

Another fantastic reason Content Marketing is so effective is that it's not disposable like other forms of advertising.

Generally speaking, you can't leave full blown adverts on your website. You put them out wherever they're to be published, they do their thing, and then they're gone. Whereas useful, friendly, well made content that answers FAQs of your customers with no outward ulterior motive, that educates and entertains can sit happily on your website and socials for years to come for potential customers to engage with.

Why Doesn't Everyone Use Content Marketing Then?

Because it takes commitment. It takes consistency and a considered approach. It takes a member of your company, if not yourself, to become the face of the brand and put themselves out there to create watchable and readable material your customers will appreciate.

It's hard. But most of your competitors aren't doing it, and so if you can find a way to bite the bullet and get yourself into gear there is a massive opportunity to become a leader in your industry in the matter of a few months or a year.

Where To Start With Content Marketing?

Here are a few things you can do to start producing content:

  1. Start A Podcast Podcasts are fantastic in that they can take the form of a simple conversation between you and a guest or colleague in which you just talk about your area of expertise. Be sure to film the recoding and then cut the hour or so of conversation down in to short 15 second clips that you can put out on YouTube Shorts or Instagram etc over the next week. The low barrier to entry vs quantity of output achievable make this well worth considering.

  2. Use AI AI engines like Chat GPT are amazing tools at your disposal. They are the future and the sooner you realise this, embrace it, and utilise its potential the better. AI can be great for suggesting potential topics of interest that you can create content about, be it a title for a LinkedIn article or the subject of discussion for a podcast episode, use AI to help you brainstorm ideas and streamline your content creation process.

  3. YouTube Youtube is the world's second largest search engine. And it's owned by the biggest - Google! Start making video content that directly answers the questions you get from customers and get it on youtube. If you know your customers regularly ask you "how much does a forklift drivers course cost?" then you can bet you they're probably typing in that exact phrase into google before they've emailed you - so make a video with that exact title! Google will send them straight to your door next time they search for that keyword search term.

  4. Be Patient This strategy takes time. Do not expect to see results in a month. It may take 6 months. It may take 2 years. But it will work eventually if you produce good content that is well thought out and solves problems for your customers it will pay off. This is a long term strategy and it takes consistency.

  5. Be Yourself This strategy is all about being you. Don't try to second guess who you think your client wants you to be because that simply wont be sustainable. Assuming you genuinely care about your customers and the quality of the work you do people will see that and buy in to your genuine "authenticity".

So... What are you waiting for?


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