Almost any marketing discussion these days will turn at some point to content marketing. Its fans will say it’s the next big thing, and its detractors will demand to see the return on investment. Both views are valid, so where does that leave a CEO wondering how to proceed? The answer depends on your company, its goals, and its willingness to think differently.
Done right, content marketing leads to the development of valuable and relevant written and video content that attracts targeted audiences and inspires an action from those audiences. Does that mean it can close a big deal? Probably not. That’s what people are for, and they should remain at the center of that process.
The goal of content marketing is to educate your customers and prospects and inspire them to do business with you. It’s establishing reputations—of companies and their leadership teams—as thought leaders. It’s building relationships that can be nurtured toward sales.
Establishing Thought Leadership Today
Plenty of successful executives have been published in media outlets such as Forbes, Fortune, and The Wall Street Journal. Most of those stories didn’t happen by accident. They happened after internal teams put together strategies to put their executives in a strong position to advocate for an approach or point of view that was interesting to those publications.
With the explosion of online publishing, companies don’t have to depend on media middlemen to deliver messages to prospects (and hope they get it right). Now they can own the media and control the message. They can even cut the costs and long lead times associated with their printed materials. For example, at BearCom Wireless, we successfully converted a quarterly print magazine to an online publication that attracted thousands of page views every month and became the single largest driver of traffic to the company website.
Selling Yourself, Not Your Products
As in the analog world, the temptation in the digital realm is to use any vehicle available to sell products. Herein lies the trap of content marketing. Selling products with white papers, e-books, blog posts, or any of the other popular content marketing vehicles doesn’t work for the same reason that you hate the idiot on late-night TV who sprays sealer in the bottom of a boat. No one likes to be sold to, especially at work.
The key to content marketing is to cut though the noise. You do that by educating customers in ways that help them make better buying decisions. So sell yourself, sell your expertise, sell your experience, sell your point of view, but don’t sell your products.
Content Marketing’s Unseen Benefits
Ah, your point of view. Ever wonder if the people in your company really get it? Do they understand your value propositions? Your customers? Your place in their minds? A great way to find out is to challenge them to develop marketing content that educates and inspires. Inevitably, you’ll find people who you thought get it but really don’t. You may even find a future leader who does.
By thinking differently and creating compelling content—and doing it consistently—you can cut through the noise. The return may not be measurable with numerical precision, but you’ll know it when you see it.