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The Green SheetGreen Sheet

The Green Sheet Online Edition

November 08, 2010 • Issue 10:11:01

Content marketing delivers by engaging prospects

By Peggy Bekavac Olson
Strategic Marketing

My company creates marketing materials for clients who are payments industry players just like you. We generate advertisements, brochures, presentations, press releases, promotional emails, white papers, quick reference guides, webinars, blogs and other materials for our clients. We've found it's far too easy for companies to spew content created off-the-cuff, but to be effective, marketing must address customers' wants, needs and pain points head-on, while keeping content fresh across a multitude of delivery channels.

Traditional versus content marketing

Traditional marketing is based on interruption methods that utilize marketing materials and tactics to interrupt buyers' activities to gain their attention and their business. Examples of interruption marketing are promotional brochures, emails, advertising and sales calls. Content marketing is based on the art of communicating without selling. It's a non-interruptive method that allows prospects to choose to view your information. Instead of pitching your company and its offerings, you deliver relevant content that makes potential buyers more informed.

The intent is to engage a distinct target audience to drive business and create brand loyalty. Examples of non-interruption marketing include white papers, journal articles, case studies, webinars, blog posts, RSS feeds.

Content marketing is the creation and sharing of valuable information, insight and advice on the issues your customers and prospects care about - for the purpose of promoting your business. Content should not be specifically about your business or its offerings, but materials frequently include a mix of pertinent problem-related information, industry best practices and thought leadership.

Content marketing should do more than inform and educate; it should make buyers stop, read, think and then behave differently. Good content marketing inspires and then provokes action.

Why is content marketing important?

Content marketing improves your company's brand recognition, image and reputation, which leads to increased sales and a larger market share. A 2009 Roper Public Affairs Report prepared for the Custom Content Council revealed that business decision-makers:

  • Prefer to get company information through a series of articles and information versus an advertisement (80 percent)
  • Find that content marketing makes them feel closer to the authoring company (70 percent)
  • Say company content helps them make better product decisions (60 percent)

This means prospects and customers can look forward to receiving content marketing and actually spend time reading it to increase their knowledge to make better buying decisions.

Buyers are looking for information that solves their problems, not an immediate sales pitch. The credibility and authority that content marketing creates eliminates buyer resistance, while introducing your company and the benefits of a specific product or service.

In a nutshell, content marketing builds trust and rapport with prospects and customers, while making it easier for them to justify purchasing from you. So you can create marketing that is welcome and anticipated, while also making a strong connection with prospective buyers.

Six rules of content marketing

Marketo Inc., a leading marketing automation company, developed six rules that can be followed to get the most out of your content marketing efforts. I've modified these rules slightly and believe content marketing should be:

    Non-promotional: Promotional materials neither excite nor inspire, both critical elements of content marketing.

    Relevant: Make sure content is pertinent and useful to potential buyers; this trumps conveying your company's mission or message.

    Insightful: Content marketing should address and answer a business question or problem; providing information about a meaningless topic doesn't accomplish anything.

    Well written: Poorly written materials yield poor results and may also hurt your company's reputation, so ensure content is presented thoughtfully and error free.

    Supportive: If content does not support your business objectives, it's a waste of time, money and resources to produce.

    Substantiated: Some content appears biased when it supports your business goals, so make sure you validate your claims through quotes, testimonials, metrics and statistics.

Content promotion

Good content is not enough. You must distribute it through multiple channels and capture information about potential customers who consume your content. Promotion is vital: if no one reads what you create, your content marketing efforts will be wasted. Tips for maximum exposure and effective lead generation include:

  • Use at least three social media platforms to spread information about your content; cross-pollination is the key.

  • Use blog posts to share key lessons and takeaways so readers quickly understand the value of your content and request to access the entire material.

  • Create a content landing page with a contact registration form (name, company and email address) and link it to the rest of your website.

  • Develop a banner ad about your content and use it on your website's home page.

  • Let industry bloggers, press, analysts and consultants know about your content so they can share it.

  • Utilize email database campaigns to deliver content to prospects, customers and key industry players.

  • Create and distribute a press release about your content.

  • Mention content in other press releases about your business.

  • Hold a virtual webinar or live, in-person event about the content.

  • Consider paid promotions like Google AdWords or subscriber advertising in the form of banner ads and emails using pertinent industry journals and newsletters.

The results of content marketing can be tremendous when you deliver information people actually want. You begin developing relationships with people who care about your marketplace and industry and who may benefit from your company's products and services. Content marketing creates sales leads, drives web traffic, promotes your brand, and educates customers and prospects about the reasons to buy. Here's the bottom line: better content marketing equals better results for your business. The Green Sheet, Inc.

Peggy Bekavac Olson is the founder of Strategic Marketing, a full-service marketing and communications firm specializing in financial services and electronic payments companies, after serving as Vice President of Marketing and Communications for TSYS Acquiring Solutions for more than five years. She can be reached at 480-706-0816 or peggyolson@smktg.com. Information about Strategic Marketing can be found at www.smktg.com.

Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.

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