Content Marketing: What’s Old is New Again

January 11, 2016

 


“Content Marketing is the Only Marketing Left”
Seth Godin


Content marketing is certainly not new. It is generally accepted that one of the first businesses to use content marketing effectively was John Deere in the late 1800s. In 1895 John Deere started publishing the magazine titled The Furrow in order to provide farmers with a resource of practical information that would increase their success. At the same time, it helped establish John Deere as the expert on all things related to farming. The magazine is still printed today in 12 languages and distributed in 40 countries.


For the same reason, companies both large and small are now embracing the concept of content marketing to deliver practical and relevant information to their customers. The emphasis on useful and relevant information means that customers and prospects are becoming increasingly sensitive to bias and deceit, demanding transparency from businesses. Rather than relying on advertising alone, customers are reading reviews and comments of those who have a personal experience of the product, service, or the business itself – often without knowing much about the reviewer.


All this leads to the need for today’s businesses to adopt a new marketing strategy. Content marketing consists of focusing on creating and distributing information that a specific target audience will find pertinent and engaging. Rather than emphasizing the features and benefits of a product or service, content marketing is communicating without direct selling. It is providing information that educates your customers and prospects so they can make better buying decisions. It is giving control to customers rather than businesses.


Make Sure Your Content is Worth Reading
If you are in the early stages of implementing a newsletter or other periodic communication with your customers or prospects, you may find yourself focusing on developing the mail list, gathering information about your company, and deciding on a layout. We agree that these are important, but we also suggest that you focus on developing content.


To do this, put yourself in the mind of your target audience. Develop a list of general topics to include on a regular basis, and think about where you can locate good content. Are there credible sources within your company or organization who could be regular contributors? Can you subscribe to industry magazines as a source of research and statistics?
No matter what topics you decide to use as content, be sure you engage the reader by making the content interesting and relevant. The more information you provide, especially information that readers perceive as being educational, the more interesting the content will become and the less overt your sales message will be.


Best Practices of Content Marketing
Successful content marketing is built on a foundation of well-written copy that covers topics of interest to the target audience and also follows the rules of grammar and copyright law. The best content will; be useful to the target audience, be unique in some way from what others are writing on the topic, use a writing style with which the target audience is comfortable, be fresh and appealing, advance a conversation, use good grammar, and will honor copyright law.


Useful content. Remember that the goal of content marketing is to build trust and confidence among a target audience by attracting and keeping their interest. Do you know what those interests are? Can you define them in the context of the products and services your business or organization provides? If not, then the first task is to study the individuals you are trying to reach. Conduct surveys, ask for feedback, and try sample topics until you can define their needs and desires.


Unique content. To ensure that readers continue their interest, a successful content marketer must do more than compile relevant information from other sources. You will need to add something – facts and figures, personal anecdotes, a new perspective – that will intrigue your readers.


Writing style. Your writing style is how you write rather than what you write. Depending on your topics and audience, you may use any of these styles: narrative (describes a personal experience based on a real event); expository (conveys information or explains something difficult to understand); or persuasive (tries to convince the reader to accept a point of view or take an action). Within each of these styles, you can use grammar and sentence structure to strike a conversational (written like you talk), formal (follows all the rules of grammar and syntax), or entertaining (humorous or fun) tone.


Fresh and appealing content. The best way to keep content fresh and appealing is to write what you know. Find topics in areas where you have some expertise. Not only will it be easier to write, but you will find it easier to offer unique insights or perspectives.


Advance a conversation. Good content advances the reader’s knowledge of a topic. Avoid rambling, repeating yourself, and adding words, phrases, or sentences that add nothing to the content.


Use good grammar. Misspellings, run-on or incomplete sentences, misuse of words, and other grammar violations will cause your audience to pay more attention to the mistakes than to the content. Proofread vigorously and edit ruthlessly.


Honor copyright law. If you are using information from other sources, give appropriate credit, and use quotation marks to indicate when you are using another writer’s words.

 

Some Amazing Opportunities in Print
When it is time to decide how to distribute the content, all media channels should be considered. In his book, Epic Content Marketing, Joe Pulizzi lists seven reasons why print is an excellent option.

 

1. It Grabs Attention. We are all getting less mail these days, so what we do receive really stands out.


2. It Focuses on Customer Retention. Historically, companies have used print to stay in touch with their customers after a purchase has been made.


3. There are No Audience Development Costs. Content marketing newsletters typically target existing customers, so it’s not necessary to develop a mailing list.


4. What’s Old is New Again. Since marketers have been using so many other media channels recently, print is being sought again because it is now non-traditional.


5. Customers Still Need to Know What Questions to Ask. It has been said that the web is where we go to get answers, but print is where we go to ask questions.


6. Print Still Excites People. The printed word is still perceived as more credible than what appears on the Internet. It is generally felt that if it is in print, it must be important.


7. Print Lets People Unplug. More and more people are choosing to spend less time online and reading print instead.

 


Let Us Help You Perfect Your Content
If you are having trouble finding a writing style or the time to create content, let us help. We may have someone on our staff who can assist, or we can provide a recommendation for a copywriter, editor, photographer, or other professional to augment your efforts. One of our services is to help our customers develop and execute an effective marketing plan, so let us go to work for you. Call Millennium Printing Corportation at 781-337.0002 if you have questions or would like to arrange a convenient time to talk. Let us help you become the expert in your field.

 

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