It’s no secret that the internet has become the #1 source for information. The Web is the largest market for seekers of information and providers of information. No matter what your business, everyone must have a website. If you don’t, you can be assured that you are a step behind your competition.

What should be included on your site? At a minimum, you must state who you are (About Us Page) and what you do (Home & Product/Services Page). This is all fine and dandy. But how do potential customers find you?

Two simple words can answer this question: “Content Marketing”. The second word is easy to describe. Marketing is simply promoting/advertising your product or service. However, the traditional methods (brochures, TV ads, fliers) are being replaced by more cost effective methods. That leads us to the first word: content. Many of us have heard the term before. But what exactly does it mean?

According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is defined as “a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant, consistent, and valuable information to a defined audience.” The key word here is valuable, meaning it is something the end user wants and would pay for. Compare that to and advertisement or junk mail (spam) that someone either turns off immediately or throws in the garbage because they find no value in it. Content marketing doesn’t explicitly promote a brand like a commercial for Nike or Coke does. The information is targeted to a specific group who wants it or seeks it out. Thus you are building a long term, personal relationship with your (potential) customers versus treating them like a sale. No one likes to feel like they are being sold to. They want to feel like they are part of a story, and people love stories.

The next question is why would a business create content in the first place? The main answer is to build their BRAND. Your brand is your #1 asset. It can take years to build, but only minutes to destroy. Your brand shows you are an expert in your field. You also raise awareness to consumers about issues they may not have considered previously. Traditional marketing is only effective after the consumer has made the decision to buy. Content marketing moves them along the buying process.

Creating content is much more cost effective than traditional marketing, thus resulting in a greater ROI. What are some key characteristics of good content?

· It’s FREE: users don’t have to pay for it

· Attracts and retains audiences who will eventually become customers. Your typical :30 radio or TV add is forgotten almost immediately

· Contains backlinks to your website, thus creating a compound effect as your content is shared with your user’s users and their user’s users.

· Must be mobile friendly as many internet users browse on smartphones and tablets

· Must be keyword oriented for SEO algorithms used by Google and other search engines (a keyword is something you type in your browser when you want to look for something specific. I’m a writer so hopefully I’ll show up when someone types in “freelance writer, copywriter, or simply writer”

· Finally, it must contain a call-to-action (prompt the user to do something)

What are some examples of content marketing?

· Blogs

· Success Stories

· Podcasts

· YouTube videos

· Whitepapers

· Articles

· Social Media posts

· E-books

· Newsletters

I hope you found this information useful, as I expect content marketing to replace traditional marketing in the not-to-distant future. I’m sure all of you will now become expert marketers and see your visitors multiply exponentially, thus resulting in more conversions.

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