If you are a business that operates online in 2017, then you will have no doubt been told how important content marketing can be as a tool for your business. The people telling you this might not have explained why, but the seed will certainly have been sown.

Content marketing sounds great, but how do you get involved, and what exactly are the benefits?

The true value of content marketing can only truly be felt over the long-term. To experience the full power of content marketing you need patience, commitment, and dedication. Believe me though; it is worth it. A leaflet drop is all well and good if you want an immediate response, and a website can get you good results if the right people visit.

Ultimately though, whatever you do in terms of marketing, your content, and the message you relay through it, will be at its core.

What is content marketing?

It makes sense to start with an explanation of exactly what content marketing is. Wikipedia describes it as:

“a type of marketing that involves the creation and sharing of online material (such as videos, blogs and social media posts).”

Simple so far. It goes on to say that this content:

“does not explicitly promote a brand but is intended to stimulate interest in its products or services.”

Does not explicitly promote. This is very important.

Content marketing can never be seen, or used, as a traditional sales technique.

Rather than selling, your aim is always to educate and provide value to your potential customers. As you are educating them, you highlight your expertise in the process and as a result, you build more trust with your prospects, so that eventually they will buy from you when the time is right for them

Why Content Marketing?

Okay, so we understand what content marketing is, but why bother using it? If it isn’t directly selling your product or service, then surely it isn’t as valuable as the type of marketing that tells the reader to buy, right?

Wrong.

We live in a world where people are tired of being sold to. Brand loyalty is waning because consumers just don’t feel valued. If you are treated like just a number by an organisation, then you will begin to see them in the same way.

Just think of it in terms of a teacher who is being interviewed for a role in a school. If you are the head teacher, do you choose the candidate who tells you how good they are and demands that you hire them, or do you instead feel more comfortable with the candidate who shows you how valuable they would be by outlining how their experiences have helped them to become a top teacher? In almost every scenario (except in politics it seems) you choose the most qualified person, the one who can demonstrate their value, rather than just tell you about it.

What Are the Long-Term Benefits?

The thing with content marketing, as we’ve already touched on, is that it is a long-term strategy. For that reason, it makes sense to start immediately. Much like visiting the dentist, the longer you put it off, the more difficult it gets to just take a deep breath and do it. But what are the long-term benefits? We’ve picked out a few we think are worth thinking about:

1. Content attracts traffic. By consistently keeping on top of trends, you can create relevant content that piques the interest of potential customers. If they see something they like, they will click through to your site. Once there, you will want to give them the best opportunity to read other posts you have written by creating links. The more content you have that is relevant and engaging, the better chance you have of retaining the interest of that customer.

2. It helps you drive SEO. Search Engine Optimisation is a crucial part of any online presence. The more you give digitally, the better your reward will be in terms of search rankings. Content plays a huge part in this, as it gives you something to utilise on your social media accounts, which in turn increases visitors to your website and the chances that more people will talk and link back to your website (if they like the content). When search engines like Google see this popularity, they judge you as relevant and highly useful, increasing your exposure further with a higher search result ranking.

3. It builds your reputation. If a customer sees your brand popping up on multiple channels they visit, and that the content you are sharing is valuable to them, your reputation with them will grow. You will be seen as a leader in your industry, an expert whose opinion should be listened to.

4. Quality content lasts forever. Having a library of diverse, well-executed content that is connected, coherent and ultimately highly knowledgeable will be something that never loses value. It enables you to draw on key facts and topics again with minimal effort when the time is right. Content marketing may be time consuming in the short term, but once the hard work is complete, you have materials to draw on forever.

Top tip: Stuck for ideas on what to talk about? Why not think about some of the most common questions your customers ask. Then, create content answering those questions! The next time someone asks a question you’ve already answered before, you can direct them to a piece of content on your website. We do this a lot on Skyline Social and most of the articles on our blog are from questions our customers (and potential customers) have already asked.

Choose Educational Content for your business

There is a fine balance between educating and patronising your customers. You should always offer something of value; advice on how to improve and tips on what to expect next from your industry. By placing yourself as a leader in your chosen market, you can invite potential customers to join you. You can motivate, inspire and excite your audience, giving them confidence in your abilities, and the help and guidance they need to improve. If you can master the tone, and offer true, quantifiable value, then you will reap the rewards.

So what is stopping you? Don’t delay.

Start your content marketing campaign today and invest in a more successful online presence for your business.