Content marketing is something that every business owner should consider as a part of their promotion strategy, whether they are primarily an online business or an offline one. This effective marketing strategy allows you to reach people who may ignore traditional advertisements. It can be highly effective in building up goodwill, and in developing relationships with bloggers, journalists and magazine publishers.
Content marketing involves producing informative or entertaining content under your brand name, and sharing it with blogs, websites, newspapers, magazines or other publications. Sharing this content is good for both you and the publisher, because you get your brand name in front of the publication's readers, while the publisher gets some "free" content that will help them to populate pages, while also adding value to their publication.
One of the most common misconceptions about content marketing is that it is simply a cheap form of advertising and that business owners could get better results by paying for advertising. This is an overly simplistic view, and one that misses some important benefits of content marketing.
Traditional advertising and content marketing go hand in hand. Banner advertising, print ads and promoted social media posts are a good opportunity to tell people about sales, promote voucher codes or advertise specific products. However, a lot of people use ad-blocking extensions in their web browsers and flip past full-page ads in magazines. These are among the many reasons that we, at the Federation of Small Businesses, believe that content marketing is so useful.
Where advertisements tend to get ignored, good content gets read and shared. Whether that content is a tutorial, an insightful opinion piece or an infographic, if it informs or entertains the reader, it has achieved its goal.
The Federation of Small Businesses works with a great many local small traders who find the idea of content marketing a little intimidating because they are not used to dealing with the media. This is especially true for people who don't have much of an online presence. Most webmasters and bloggers are quite easy to deal with, and even local newspaper and magazine editors are typically happy to hear from small business owners if it is clear that they have taken some time to think about their pitch.
The objective of each piece of content that you share is not to specifically promote a product or get someone to make a purchase. Rather, it should be to get your brand name in front of consumers and to establish your company as an expert in its chosen niche. Each individual piece of content that is published or shared won't, in all likelihood, generate a significant number of sales on its own, but together they will combine to have an impact on the way in which your target audience perceives your brand.
Most people need to be exposed to a brand name several times before they associate that brand with a specific type of product or service. If your company can get a long-term content marketing relationship with a popular blog or with the local free paper, you will be well on the way towards generating that exposure –without having to spend a lot of money on advertising. Each time a customer sees your brand in a non-sales context, they will think positively of you. When the time comes for them to make a purchasing decision, your brand name should, all being well, be high on their list of possible suppliers.
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