Your content is your brand. It’s what consumers relate to and are influenced by when buying your product or service. Without a confident voice, you not only lose your edge over the competition but the loyalty of your consumers.
And though this may ring true for many, it’s a reality still largely overlooked by a surprising number of companies today. If you’re not getting the right content out through the right channels, you won’t end up reaching the right people. This means missed opportunities that hold the potential to drive your business forward.
Gone are the days when an effective marketing strategy meant interruptive advertising at every turn to showcase a product or service. Consumers are already inundated with ads, many of which turn a deaf ear to what consumers really want and instead amplify their own self-serving interests.
Despite all the ways companies can connect with consumers nowadays — mobile being the frontrunner — users can just as easily disable ads on their smartphones altogether, hit the mute button on their TV during commercial breaks, flip the page or simply turn a blind eye. That’s a great deal of money wasted on trying to “grab people’s attention”.
So how can brands connect with their audience? Enter inbound marketing. While traditional marketing remains interruptive and marketer-centric, inbound marketing is empowering and educational.
The ultimate goal is for brands to enlighten consumers so that they can make informed decisions on their own terms. If you deliver consistent and meaningful information to buyers, rest assured they will reward you with their business and loyalty for years to come.
According to Forbes, the percentage of corporations using content marketing as part of their overall marketing strategy jumped to 90% in 2013, nearly a 30% increase from a year before. Yet, while 70% of organizations continue to create engaging content, a mere 21% of marketers see it as a successful solution at tracking ROI.
Hubspot reports a mere 40% of B2B marketers and 39% of B2C marketers have a documented content strategy, respectively.
John Deere, the most famous agricultural company in the world, has been using content marketing for years. Widely regarded as one of the pioneers of content marketing, they were one of the first brands to really see its potential.
Deere launched a magazine called The Furrow in 1895 that would later change the landscape of how brands communicate with their consumers. Rather than stuffing their latest equipment into a catalog format, they leveraged the magazine to educate farmers on new technology and how it could help grow their business more successfully. Absent were fluffy promotional messages and self-serving rants. In its place were insightfully penned articles written by journalist, storytellers and designers that honed in on relevant issues affecting farming and solutions to make their businesses run more efficiently.
More impressive is the fact that this approach wasn’t merely a passing fad, or gimmicky trend. 120 years later and the magazine is still the most circulated and widely-read farming magazine in the world, delivered each month to over 1.5 million farmers, in 12 languages, across 40 different countries. No other deliverable can have that much of a far-reaching effect and pull so many to its client’s product.
Michelin is another fine example with their brilliant, and hugely popular guide series that sprang up in the early 1900’s, offering drivers a wealth of information on auto maintenance, accommodations, and useful travel tips.
Whatever creative direction you take, content marketing should be the central part of your strategy, not separate.
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