Secrets of Content Marketing

Do you know what “content marketing” is? You may not know it by that name, but if you have a business blog, post articles on your website or send out an email newsletter, you’re using content marketing. Content marketing doesn’t have to involve the Web (though it usually does these days): Giving customers a pamphlet with useful tips, teaching a seminar, or distributing an informational booklet constitutes content marketing as well.

If you haven’t guessed by now, content marketing means using “content” – that is, information—to market your business. Content marketing is most often used by BtoB companies or those that rely on promoting themselves as experts. But it can be used by just about any type of business—all you have to do is think of what kind of information customers might want, and figure out how you’ll provide it.

Enterprise Council on Small Business (ECSB) has studied the issue of how companies most effectively use content marketing and recently spotlighted some tips gathered from studying how insurance companies are doing content marketing around the recent health-care reform. Here’s what they found:

The companies that were most successful provided information, insights and resources on current topics of interest to their audiences—usually for free.

Being ahead of the curve is important. The time to focus your content marketing on a particular issue is before everybody else does it. This means you need to have your finger on the pulse of the hot trends in your industry and be ready to produce content related to them at a moment’s notice.

Build a team. Most small businesses don’t have the internal resources to create a lot of content at a moment’s notice, so smart companies build networks by partnering with other thought leaders to create content. For instance, you could create a partnership with 3 or 4 non-competing but complementary businesses in your industry. Be ready to create a newsletter, webinar, online panel or series of podcasts featuring all of you talking about different aspects of a topic. You could share the content among all of your websites, driving more traffic than you could have individually.
Be prepared. Get familiar with the tools you’ll need to deliver content—whether that’s setting up a blog or learning to use a video camera to record your talking points. That way, when the moment comes you won’t lose any time getting up to speed.

Make it relevant. The content you provide needs to relate directly to your core business. Make the connection crystal clear so people think of you when they think of the topic/s you’re covering. For instance, if you’re an accountant, focus your content on accounting—not consulting or insurance, even if those are loosely related. Providing directly relevant content not only builds your credibility as an expert, but also drives people back to your site and your business when they need what you’re offering.

The tactic worked for the insurance companies in ECSB’s study. The study found that business owners who had a basic understanding of which health insurance tax credits they were eligible for were three times more likely to provide employees health insurance or become part of an insurance exchange. All it took was a little education…and all it takes to educate your target customer is smart content marketing.


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