Last night we had a meeting over a beer (that’s how we roll) with an advisor of ours. He mentioned how much he enjoyed a video blog entry about Google Analytics that we recently posted. He said he’s watched the video multiple times, taken his learnings to others at his company and even put it to use. In the interest of full disclosure, he is a friend as well as an advisor so I don’t want to overreact and give ourselves a huge pat on the back. But it was a really rewarding thing to hear for a few reasons:
- the content added value for him
- his company fits the mold of the type of business we’re targeting
- we had enough credibility in their eyes to be an authority on the subject at hand
Internally at Gorilla, we’ve been talking, debating and formulating opinions quite a bit throughout the past year about the idea of “content marketing” – a term that has become quite the buzzword in our industry. So much so though, that it makes you wonder: Is it a bubble that’s going to burst? Is it all hype? Is is just a load of BS?
My example from last night validated my belief that the answer to these questions is in short, “no”. But it’s not that simple.
As marketing professionals, everything we read and hear today from industry leaders tells us that as business owners and marketers, we all need to be publishers of content. We’re told that we need to be cranking out blog posts left and right, designing or hiring illustrators to make infographics, writing white papers, and then sharing all that stuff through Facebook and Twitter and Google+ and LinkedIn and Pintrest and email campaigns, all to drive traffic to our site. We’re taught that we (and every other company out there) need to give our audience something to read that is created by us.
But here’s another question: As this trend continues, and more and more “publishers” enter the mix, how can we ensure that our stuff rises to the top?
1. Make it exceptional
You can’t half-ass it. You just can’t. Your brand is on the line and you live or die by the perception you create for your business. If you’re going to write a blog post, make sure it serves a purpose, takes a strong stance on something, and is valuable to whoever you’re targeting. And remember – it’s not just about driving traffic to your site. It’s much, much bigger than that. It’s about proving your worth and giving your potential customers something that is remarkably useful.
2. Know and narrow your audience
There are probably a lot of other companies and individuals producing very similar content to your own. And that trend isn’t slowing down any time soon. If you’re a general contractor, don’t target people looking to build a building. Target CEOs of growing Midwestern privately-owned financial institutions worth $50-100M who may be looking to build a building. In other words, narrow your audience and create exceptional content that will be of value to them specifically. When your content is tightly focused, it will rise to the surface for that niche audience because it has been created specifically for them.
3. Build credibility and authority
This is most likely the biggest challenge you’ll face. Unless you’re already a big, established, well-respected player in your industry, this one is out of your control in many ways. But, if you focus on numbers 1 and 2 above, you’ll start to establish credibility within your niche of the marketplace. And as more and more people find you credible and a good source for information, you’ll begin to establish authority. It takes time and dedication, but it’s achievable. We’ve seen it happen with our clients and watching that process unfold is really rewarding.
So is content marketing a load of BS?
Only if your content is.