Content marketing is everywhere you look. This very article about content marketing is itself content marketing, which much like Googling the word Google using Google, is exactly the kind of thing that may cause time to loop in on itself and collapse the universe. One paragraph should be fine though.
Content marketing could even accurately be called value marketing, in that the marketing itself provides value. You might learn something from it. Be truly entertained by it. It is not, on its own, explicitly trying to sell anything. The goal of content marketing is to bring people to a business organically, so they'll hopefully move on from the content to become a customer.
Like with any form of marketing, you need to have a strategy in order to succeed. A content marketing plan if you will. Where should you start?
What is Your Area of Expertise?
Unless you've embarked on some kind of weird personal growth challenge to start a company in a field you know nothing about, your area of expertise almost certainly coincides with your business. So this is as simple as determining how you can share your expertise with potential customers outside of the products or services you're providing.
Own a bakery? Share recipes you've learned over the years. Own a restaurant? Write in detail about how and where you source your food. Sell clothing? Give fashion and beauty tips.
Work as a contractor? Provide guidance to help people keep their homes from falling apart.
Consult as a writer? Discuss how to approach content marketing.
This list could continue, but you get the idea. Everyone knows something that could benefit others. The important thing is not to get overly broad with what you present. The more specific the field of knowledge you cover the more you'll likely benefit from both word-of-mouth and SEO.
How Will You Present This Information?
Once you settle on what to share, you'll need to determine how to go about sharing it. Will you write? Make videos? Record streaming audio or create a podcast? A little something from all three?
Use Your Words
The death of the written word has been predicted ever since the invention of the radio. Considering you are reading this right now, we can feel pretty confident that this has not come to pass. Movies are the future! Radio is the future! TV is the future! YouTube is the future! Yet according to research, even Millennials (a term that technically refers to people born between 1978 and 1998, but is generally just used to mean anyone younger than the person saying it) prefer reading the news to watching it. That's why every video you see on Facebook also includes text overlays: people would rather read the video than turn their sound on.
Writing most of your content is valuable beyond just the notion that people prefer it. The written word remains the easiest form of communication for search engines to accurately measure and so is the best way for you also help your SEO. Clear, concise copy is king when is comes to writing for the web. Readers want a compelling narrative that's personal, relatable and connects emotionally. This doesn't mean the other forms of communication are useless, however.
A quality video requires more of an upfront time investment than writing. Not only do you have to record visuals and capture audio and then edit that all together, you usually have to write a script for the video as well. But when done well and used in the right situations, a video can provide more value than a written article. Showing how to do something, like fixing a leaky faucet, is much easier through video.
Record a Podcast
Unless you've always wanted to become a Radio DJ or appear on NPR, there is no real reason for you to make a podcast. At least not as part of your initial content marketing strategy. This would fit in better as part of Content Marketing 201.
Where Will You Present This Information?
For content marketing to work, people need to see it. Start a blog. Share every post to FB and any other social network you use. Get an email newsletter going. Host your videos on YouTube and link back to your site from there. Partner with other businesses to share your content on their sites and share some of their content on yours.
How Often Will You Create More Content?
Regularly. Writing one article or making one video isn't going to do it. A successful content marketing plan should have at least one new piece of content a week. Create a calendar and stick to it.
As you get started, remember that the goal of content marketing is not to create immediate conversions. It's to build familiarity and trust, so that a customer who reads your recipes today, might come to your bakery in two months when they need a cake that's beyond their skill set. Stick with it over time and you'll see dividends.