I’m not looking to write the definitive answer on what content marketing is, rather, just give a brief insight into what I see it as and some of the benefits it can bring to companies.
Content marketing seems to be an easy to topic to write blog posts about but a difficult thing to do in real life….or more specifically, difficult to persuade business owners to spend money on!
While TV adverts can cost millions to make and the same again in media costs, this is an accepted part of marketing (or advertising) and is easy to talk to business owners about. TV makes phones ring, drives visitors to websites and builds brands, there’s a million Power Point presentations on its effectiveness and people understand it. ‘Content marketing’ can be a similar beast but there’s still a lot of unknowns that can put people off.
Someone could come and sell me a TV ad costing £X to make and £Y to buy advertising slots with. The Power Point and Excel graphs could then tell me that Z number of people will see the ad and we can then work out the value of this based on thousands of other bits of research. What if, however, we were to make a movie/song/graphic/game and then use the internet to distribute it and drive people to your website or shop? This seems like a great idea because we can ditch the expensive TV campaigns and reinvest in even better content.
As an aside, it’s true that the best TV ads can live on for decades and the invention of YouTube means that they can keep building your brand forever.
So, what if we were to create content that isn’t an advert and is just entertaining and/or educational for our customers? The best way to describe this is really to look at some examples…..
Palladium Boots – This content is so good that you should just click on the link, go to their site and learn more about cities from around the world than you will from any travel guide! Seriously, go and do it now! Their main way of distributing the movies was through their own site but their YouTube channel still has over 1.8m views. These aren’t just views of people who see a TV ad in passing, a lot of these people will have sought out the movies or been referred via Facebook (lots of them from me) and actually WANT to watch them. From this (I’m guessing significant) investment, Palladium Boots have managed to
- build themselves a lot of links and social shares (I thought I should try and tie this back into SEO) and by the looks of it, this wasn’t even why they did it. I think they could have actually got lots more links if they had pushed the content more.
- They have also created a reason to go to their brand site rather than just go to another footwear retailer with a selection of brands
- Made me want to buy their products even thought it’s not the kind of footwear that I’d normally want to buy
It would be great to hear more about how this was sold into the company and what effect it has had on sales. If you’re reading this and know anyone over at Palladium Boots then please put them in touch.
GoPro – These guys are so good at creating content, getting people to create content for them and distributing it around the internet, that it’s hard to know where to begin! Now, it helps when you company builds video cameras but their YouTube channel has over 200m views, their Facebook pages has over 4.4m likes and a email database that must be huge due to their ‘everything we make daily giveaway’. This is so clever because they’ve given people a reason to follow them and then shown them thousands of reasons to buy their products. Like Palladium Boots, I doubt these campaigns have been targeted at SEO/ link building, but because they are so worth watching, they have built links and built the brand at the same time!
This takes me on to the point that I think lots of people are missing about content marketing; it’s not just about search engines, it’s about making your company or product stick out as the expert in it’s field, the best place to shop for products or information and a real company with real people and real lives. This is something that Nicholas Woodman of GoPro does really well as he’s so passionate about the product and what can be done with it – he doesn’t just hide away behind marketing teams or boardrooms.
Now all of these concepts and ideas are great if you are an international company with big budgets and an amazing new product to sell, what if you are a small company with a less innovative product?
Hint: you can do more than start a blog!
Dales Cycles – I’ve chosen to look at this local Glasgow company as they have started down the content marketing route but haven’t quite gone all the way. They have two pages of blog posts going back to March 2012, most of which have pictures or YouTube videos of products they sell or people they sponsor. The content looks decent enough to a non cycling enthusiast but it’s not the kind of stuff that would really attract me to the site. They also have 25 videos in their YouTube channel which again, look more OK than amazing.
So what could a smallish company like this do? He’re a few ideas of the top of my head that I think could make them even more of a destination both online and offline:
- Product videos. You don’t need to show every bike out in its natural environment but a short product video would be really good to get a better idea how it looks. Having this presented by an actual expert/enthusiast would be even more valuable. I know some people will think “why make a video for online when the viewer will just go and buy it from the cheapest shop”, and I would answer with “because it gets them to your site in the first place or stops them leaving your site and going to one with videos.
- Expert videos. I’m only an occasional cycler and as such I know hardly a thing about maintenance or tuning my bike. If Dales were to have videos showing me how to change a tyre or fix my chain (I mean really good ‘how to’ videos) then I could buy the parts from them and do it myself. Since I’m a bit rubbish at that kind of job then I would probably still take the bike in to them to get the work done, but at least the videos would show me how good their experts are and I’d probably share them with the next person I talked to about bike maintenance.
- Get photos of every cycling event in the country and host them on the company site. Hire a photographer or pay the expenses of the guys who already go to the events, get them to photograph every cyclist as they cross the finish line, stick up a banner that tells everyone where the pictures will be hosted and Bob’s your uncle, every competitive cyclist in the country (and beyond) is visiting your site and quite probably linking to it too.
There’s loads more content ideas that you could do with a company like Dales, it’s just a case putting yourself in the mind of a customer and thinking about what you would be interested in seeing. The greatest thing is that you’re not just creating content for the purpose of feeding the Google SEO machine, you’re actually helping your customers AND getting the SEO benefit!
Still, Dales Cycles are quite a big company and have staff, resources and marketing budgets, YOUR company might not have these things. Can you still do content marketing and make it profitable? Yes!!!
You know how spammers sign up to forum, answer a question slightly related to their clients site and add a link? You can do this without being a spammer and can make yourself seen as an expert in front of a captive audience desperate for your knowledge. I’ve seen this done really well on motoring forums, green energy forums, fitness forums and tech forums. Using a slightly more modern method, Oliver Emberton answers self help type questions on Quora and has built a following of people desperate to read about his methods of self improvement. After one of his posts went viral he was approached about book, tv and film rights for the novel he is writing.
If one man in his office can get a movie deal by sharing his expertise online, think about the amazing things that you can do with you business…..