Content Marketing – Why Content Matters

This year marks the third straight year that marketers plan to increase spending on content marketing, according to the “2010 Content Marketing Spending Survey.” In fact, 59 percent of marketers plan to increase content marketing this year, with spending for content marketing comprising 33 percent of total marketing budgets.

The term “content marketing” goes by many names-custom publishing, custom media, custom content, branded content, corporate content, corporate media, and customer media-but what exactly does it mean?

In the simplest of terms, content marketing is a marketing technique in which businesses use valuable, relevant content to attract new customers, engage their current customers, and build their brand. The content can take a variety of forms, from videos and Web articles to white papers and blogs, but the goal is to provide content that focuses on the customers informational needs, not on a company’s products. By identifying a clear target audience, businesses can use this marketing to drive desirable customer actions and to foster more meaningful customer relationships.

Using content in your marketing strategy is important for several reasons. First and foremost, customers are beginning to shut out traditional marketing methods. With a plethora of information at their disposal, customers are becoming increasingly resistant to interruption marketing. They already know what they want, and they have little patience for superfluous advertising messages. Now more than ever, customers want to make their own decisions regarding products and services, and they are looking for content that will aid them in their decision making.

Instead of selling a product or service, businesses that utilize content marketing seek to provide their customers with the information and resources that will make them more intelligent and knowledgeable. And businesses that consistently deliver relevant and valuable content to their customers will gain their trust and loyalty in return.

Furthermore, in light of the decline in traditional media outlets like newspapers and magazines, content marketing presents a big opportunity for content creators to fill a growing void. Advances in technology provide a number of new channels for businesses to reach their customers-social media communities, e-newsletters, white papers, Webinars, and videos, just to name a few. As digital media continues to improve, more traditional media outlets will become obsolete. Content creators will play a key role in helping companies leverage the digital medium, and smart businesses will recognize that they need to get on board in order to stay competitive, and ultimately, to survive.

With a growing list of digital media outlets out there, the only way for businesses to distinguish their message from the messages of others is through content marketing. Offer your customers the information they want to make them stop, read, and act. The key to successful marketing through content is the development of a clear strategy. Marketers must take a close look at their intended audience and identify specific objectives and goals that take into account their overall business strategy. Some important questions to consider as you build and implement your content marketing strategy include:

• Who are your customers?

• What do your customers need or value?

• What information is integral to the success of your customers both personally and professionally?

• What action do you want your customers to take?

• What are the best channels for reaching your customers?

• How will you measure the success of your content marketing initiative?

The bottom line is that technology is transforming the methods that businesses must use to interact with their customers, and customers, in turn, have different expectations for the ways they interact with businesses. Bombarding customers with advertising messages is no longer effective-customers are looking to engage with businesses on a more personal level. Effective content marketing allows businesses to engage with their customers by offering them the information they need to lead more successful and productive lives.

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