In the digital world, content marketing is fast becoming the most effective tool to engage new customers and grow existing clients.
91% of business to business marketers use content marketing to reach customers – according to the Content Marketing Institute.
Content marketing is defined as a type of marketing that involves the creation and sharing of online material such as videos, blogs, and social media posts that do not explicitly promote a brand but is intended to stimulate interest in its products or services. Anything that can be perceived as value-add without the selling aspect. It’s about making your customer the hero of the story.
But what does that mean?
Traditional marketing places the product in front of the customer. Content marketing places relevant information in front of the customer. This is all about the audience. It’s educational, not promotional. It is what resonates and builds loyalty. It is looking way past interrupting the customers’ interests and instead focusing on being what they are interested in. It takes a lot of effort. And the results are not always immediately quantifiable. You must be patient.
Social media and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) are integral parts of a content marketing strategy. People are all over websites, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and podcasts all day long, so it is not even necessary to knock on doors to get noticed. All you have to do is be where your customers are and have something of value to offer them. This is advantageous because with the use of adblockers, finding new and innovative ways to stay connected is paramount.
Content marketing is not static; it is an ever-evolving landscape. There are so many ways to reach potential customers; from free courses to eBooks and downloads to hosting free events, organized outings and community outreach. No matter the method, visuals are key. Thoughtful images and creative video clips that tell a story and take the customer on a journey, along with interesting quotes that make readers stop and stay awhile are the heart of content marketing. At the end of the experience, there should be a call to action, a get-up-and-go moment where you want to do something great.
An excellent example of a successful content marketing initiative in community outreach comes courtesy of the United Way Centraide Ottawa. This innovative not-for-profit organization, well known for being at the forefront of charitable support work in local communities around the world, launched the United for Refugees campaign in support of Syrian refugees due to arrive on the city’s doorstep at any moment. The entire campaign brought together over a dozen community groups focused on the sponsorship, support and integration of Ottawa’s newest neighbours.
So successful was this initial campaign that, what started in Ottawa as a local outreach, rapidly expanded to the rest of the country and went on to raise over $5M. Not bad for a campaign conceived and launched in just under a week. Coupled with some compelling and heartwarming images and a tagline that read “Together we can help Syrian refugees get the best start to a new life in Canada” they went from their usual fundraising side to create one of the most powerful and highly effective content marketing calls to action.
- UFR raised more than $850K locally
- UFR raise over $5M across the country
- UFR drove millions of impressions through social media and web
- Created 3,000 new followers on social media
So, what does this content look like and how do you make this work for you?
As a company, assess your business development efforts to identify something unique you have to offer and want to share. Invite your customers to come inside and let you tell them a story. A well-crafted story, complete with images and video that put your customer inside the experience that leaves an indelible mark in their hearts and minds. The content put forth should spark a thoughtful conversation and feel personal, not mass-produced.
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