Story by Hal Goodtree. First published on CitizenWebsites.
Cary, NC – Content-marketing is all the buzz. Entrepreneur Magazine says 82% of B2B companies are using it – more than newspapers, TV or search marketing.
We’ve been doing it for our clients for four years. Now I’m going to explain how you can do it, too.
All About Content Marketing
Content marketing is really pretty simple to understand. It puts advertisers in the position of being general interest publishers.
An example will make it all clear: imagine you are a realtor in Raleigh. Instead of publishing stories about real estate and mortgages (like all the other agents do), you publish stories about Raleigh events, food and the arts.
Readers in Raleigh who are searching for stories about food etc. find your content and visit your website.
Frequency in Content Marketing
If you publish stories about a focused topic (like food in Raleigh) on a regular, consistent basis – say once a week – your search ranking will rise over time. This will help you best other realtors when someone is actually looking to buy or sell a house.
The Genius of Content Marketing
Content marketing expands your audience beyond people who are interested in your product right now. It has a long-tail benefit and produces a cumulative effect.
Main Beneficiary: Low Interest Categories
In the four years we’ve been doing content marketing, it’s become clear to us that the biggest benefit can be seen in low-interest categories.
High-interest categories generate their own excitement. Cars, food and gardening are all high-interest categories. People seek out stories on those topics.
Dentistry, real estate and law are low-interest categories. People only care when they have a specific problem or need.
As a marketer in a low-interest category, you are naturally always advertising to people with an immediate need. But the field is crowded by all your competitors. And it would be great to create awareness and brand recognition before the consumer has the need. Awareness and brand recognition positions you to harvest the fruit when it is ripe, to paraphrase my late, great biz dev mentor Sandy Sulcer.
I must write more about Sandy Sulcer one of these days.
Finally, content marketing creates a halo-effect.
For a dentist or a lawyer or a bed store, content marketing connects the business to wider public interest. But focusing on a niche (we know a realtor who blogs about youth soccer), the business can become the de facto expert on a particular subject targeted to a local audience. They become more than just a business – they become a valuable source of information to a particular community.
This halo of expertise in one subject (say soccer) burnishes the image of the realtor in a general way. “Wow, she really knows the community,” a reader is likely to say.
Getting Started in Content Marketing
Most advertisers are diverting dollars from other efforts into content marketing. If you are a realtor, that means examining whether or not you really need Realtor.com, ActiveRain, Trulia and Zillow. Post card marketing, Yellow Pages and newspaper advertising are also on the chopping block.
Unless you are a great writer and photographer with a lot of free time, you need to hire professionals. PR firms and ad agencies are getting into the act, and a new class of content marketers (like ourselves) is emerging.
We sell content marketing in packages – three months, six months and one year. The basic frequency is one story per week. Expect to spend about $3000 per year.
Measuring Content Marketing
The most exciting metric in content marketing is audience growth. Our clients like to see page views growth on a monthly basis, validating their investment.
Also interesting is entry keywords – that is, what people searched on to find your site. Content marketing greatly expands your entry keyword list.
In the longer term, actual sales can be correlated to the increase in brand awareness, recognition and website traffic. That’s why money is coming out of traditional SEO and into content marketing.
It’s not hard to see exactly when we began content marketing for this client:
Examples of Content Marketing
Here are three examples of content marketing.
- North Hills Midtown Lowdown – We created this stream, but North Hills writes the content and self-publishes. NH is not exactly a low interest category, but they gain an edge over their competition by publishing newsy stories about what is going on in their community on a daily basis.
- Julie Roland Realty – Julie creates tremendous awareness for her company by filling a void in general community news about Pittsboro and Chatham County. As we tell business leaders and municipalities on a regular basis, the newspaper is not coming to your town unless a chemical factory bursts into flames. You need to tell your own story. Julie is doing it for her corner of the Triangle.
- The Better Sleep Store – Another client, beds and mattresses are the classic low-interest category. We gain an edge for BSS over the competition (both the locals and the nationals) but publishing regular community news about Chapel Hill mixed in with a humorously informative column about sleep and dreams.
Content marketing requires a sustained, focused effort. Set a budget, hire professionals and monitor your metrics to make sure you are achieving the desired benefit.
Write to me if you have a good content marketing story or a burning question.