Every business needs to market and advertise its products and services in order to grow. Traditionally, enterprises reached new audiences by advertising in print, such as newspapers, and using marketing materials like business cards and leaflets. In the digital age and a global economy, however, even small businesses have had to change their approach to marketing in order to survive and thrive and be relevant.

Relevance is a key theme of modern marketing. Consumers want to know about the things that interest them. They don’t want to be bombarded with marketing messages that are not relevant to their age group, area or interests. That is why a targeted, more personalised way of marketing has evolved to keep pace with technology and consumer demands.


See also: Advertising on a budget


Content marketing offers businesses a strategic, consistent and relevant approach to reaching and engaging with people who are likely to be interested in their goods and services. It involves the creation and distribution of original and valuable content to a targeted audience with subtle yet powerful calls to action. The core aim of content marketing is to offer the consumer information they want, not spam.

Why do businesses need content marketing?

Content marketing is widely considered the present and future of advertising. Why? Because it works.

Household names use content marketing to offer customers the information they will find of interest and to increase brand loyalty. But you don’t have to be a big brand to benefit from content marketing. Any business can reap the rewards.


See also: Writing effective email newsletters for rural businesses


The top five reasons to embrace content marketing:

  • It’s less expensive than traditional forms of advertising
  • You can target specific audiences
  • It is an effective way to increase sales
  • It boosts SEO and drives more traffic to your website
  • It encourages brand loyalty

Content

Content can be any of the following:

  • Articles (such as blog posts)
  • Social media posts
  • Infographics
  • Images
  • Website pages
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Books/Guides

To be effective, your content must be original and offer valuable information. For example, if you make craft products, you could write a blog post about seasonal trends (i.e. top gift ideas for Christmas), emerging new methods or the history of your craft and how it is evolving. You can distribute content by email (in the form of a newsletter to subscribers), on your website, via social media with links to your website and through mailshots.

Images, infographics and video to illustrate written content offer added value. A person who makes crafts, for example, could take a photograph of a finished product and post it on social media with an engaging piece of text and a link to their website.


See also: Five free forms of marketing


They could post it on Twitter and use a relevant hashtag, such as #KitchenCrafts #RuralCrafts, to reach potential new customers. This type of content marketing promotes brand awareness and drives leads.

A catering business could, perhaps, promote a ‘dish of the day’ recipe or create a monthly newsletter about seasonal produce. Get your content right and people could actually look forward to receiving your marketing material.

Distributing content

Before you create and distribute your content, you have got to know your target market. Who is your ‘ideal customer’? Have a picture of that customer in your mind when you decide where they live, how old they are and what makes them interested in the type of goods or services you sell. Once you know who your ideal customer is, you can consider how that person is most likely to access information of interest to them.

If you own a business with a target market that is, let’s say, female, and between the ages of 30 to 45, it may be an idea to promote your content on Pinterest for example, due to the demographics of that particular social networking.

Make sure you stay up-to-date with social media trends so you know where your target audience ‘hangs out.’

Most popular social media platforms worldwide

Source: www.statista.com

Valuable content

Poor content will be regarded as spam and could damage, rather than enhance, your brand. That is why quality is so important. Valuable content is informative, eye-catching and engaging. What would your customers like to know about the business you are in?

If you offer B2B services or run a consultancy service, for example, you may consider a PDF guide, downloadable for free from your website, a great way to offer value, which could then be promoted on social media with links to the download page.