Often, when talking about content, it’s easy to think only of the text, the words you are using within a webpage, graphic, or advertising campaign. But the true definition of content marketing encompasses strategic marketing approaches focused on creating and deploying valuable, relevant, and consistent content.
Content creation includes everything from the words you use in an ad or on your About Us webpage, to the consistent use of on-brand colors, fonts, and photos to differentiate your business’s voice in a way that is easily recognizable for audiences.
What is Good Content?
A common joke we see is the fact that, when you search for a specific recipe online, you must wade through dozens of irrelevant paragraphs aimed to create a sense of personal connection before you get to the actual recipe instructions – and how everyone skips all of that preamble without even glancing at it.
When people search for recipes, they are generally looking for a quick answer or solution to the never-ending struggle of “what’s for dinner?” While the stories and ideas shared above the instructions are often very well-written, the content as a whole isn’t effective because it is ill-placed – nearly everyone skips all the fluff and goes right to the good stuff.
Good content shouldn’t do that. It should invite your target audience in with education and entertainment, while being focused on creating a tailored experience that will, in the end, relate back to your business or its products and services. This is where your content strategy comes in.
Content strategy is simply a plan you create that helps refine your content offerings to help establish what “story” you are trying to tell as a brand. Creating content just for the sake of continuity or to hit arbitrary goals like “post 3 times per week on Instagram” is not often effective.
You’ll want your content to follow a predetermined narrative, ideally one that feeds your audience’s needs and guides their preferences towards your business offerings.
Once you’ve determined the “story” you want to tell, you must next determine who should hear the story. Understanding your audience is crucial for small businesses because there are now millions of SMB voices from all over the world trying to reach the same target audience that you are.
Fortunately, feedback is something consumers are happy to give you, especially when those giving the feedback feel they are truly being heard or are being offered an incentive to fill out a survey or write a review. Remember the recipe example – if you aren’t creating content that is interesting and relevant to your audience base, you are wasting your time and your potential customer’s time.
Popular Content Types
Now that you have the gist of what should be included in your content, let’s take a look at a few different types of content and their suitability to certain messages and audiences.
1. Blog Articles and Listicles
Blogs are a great way for you to showcase your business in correlation with insightful, informative, or entertaining topics that relate back to your business offerings. In fact, 70% of people would rather learn about a company through articles rather than ads. You can write timely articles about how your product or service works to solve a new challenge or how your business fits perfectly into a new trend that has arisen. Blogs also serve to familiarize potential customers with the “voice” of your brand. If you are a B2B business that operates primarily in corporate America, for example, using your blog to showcase your industry insight using a professional tone can be a powerful tool for establishing your business’s reputation for excellence and competence. But if your company sells baby clothes or artisanal cheeses, that blog’s voice will be very different.
Listicles are a specific type of blog article that, while it can be effective in garnering attention for your blog and business, must be used strategically so it doesn’t become a gimmick offering. People love lists. When curating your lists, be sure they stay on target with a specific theme, and have some entertainment or educational value that makes sense with your brand.
2. eBooks and White Papers
Ebooks and white papers are like long-form blogs – you can use these content types to dive deeply into a specific topic or subject. White papers are more an authoritative or professional report on a complex issue. It helps readers understand that issue, solve a problem, or represent your company’s philosophy on a topic. For example, if your company has a proven method or process for producing or servicing your customer base, a white paper is a great way to explain that process to your target audience.
Ebooks are a little more creative in nature – you could create an ebook comprised of coloring pages that are related to your product or business, you could create a small gathering of recipes, or fun facts and photos. The options here are endless.
The main goal for offering ebooks and white papers is to, again, educate and entertain, but to also create some valuable free resources for your potential customers, or entice them to join an email list.
Infographics are images that tell a story or present important information. Graphics and images are always far more powerful than a block of text, and they are more visually interesting as well as easier to share on social media.
The purpose of an infographic is to present large amounts of information in an easily digestible and shareable medium. Infographics can be used to tell your company’s origin story, to distill a blog post or listicle into a more memorable visual, or to outline any number of step-by-step processes as they are related to your business.
Other Content Types
This is not an exhaustive list of the types of content that are being utilized every day by different industries and businesses. There are other types that may be less popular, but more suited to your needs or your audience’s preference: email newsletter, podcasts, case studies, press releases, videos, how-to guides, op-eds, research, interviews, Q&A, checklists, memes, influencers, user-generated content, the list is endless.
Take Advantage of Our Communications Professionals
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