It was a paperback book someone I trusted and respected had recommended.
Its title was good but not great.
The headline wasn’t so compelling that it would stop you in your tracks. But something about it made me want to start reading and open the cover.
Most of it was read in coffee shops near my home. I had plenty of time as I was between jobs.
But it made a big promise.
If you created great engaging content online then you would attract leads and sales.
The term used to describe that was “inbound marketing”
“The New Rules of Marketing and PR” by David Meerman-Scott
As a sales and marketing professional it seemed to make a lot of sense. I certainly liked the idea of attracting customers rather than chasing them.
Over my career I had used newspaper advertising, radio ads, cold calling, fax broadcasting and even door knocking to grow sales.
But this outbound marketing often meant that you had to pay gatekeepers to get your business and brand in front of an audience.
The media moguls had the distribution and access to the customers that wanted to buy your products.
But things had changed.
The Internet had emerged and websites, search engines and online publishing were becoming mainstream.
New tools and platforms
But the real kick-starter to make it easy to publish and get attention?
That was the fast emerging social media networks supercharged by the rise of mobile.
It was a perfect storm but I didn’t know it at the time.
I was so intrigued by the discovery and its potential that I started a blog on the topic. In essence it was an experiment.
It was the start of a journey to see if David’s premise stacked up.
Could it deliver? Would it go beyond a good idea to a global trend?
The big questions
The passion project started and content creation commenced.
But one big question was “would my amateur articles attract an audience?”
The other burning questions?
- Can you grow revenue from content creation?
- Can you build a business around it?
- Is this a passing fad?
As I started publishing I also started sharing my creation with few followers on Twitter. They responded. They shared and left comments.
The occasional website visitors turned into many and then into millions of readers a year.
The first big question had been answered.
The second question
Can content create revenue?
One year later I found an email in my inbox asking me to speak in Italy. They offered to pay me. Another question had a response that I liked.
A few years later I left my day job and struck out on my own. The sustainable business question had been resolved.
This had all happened around a content publishing hub that had been started with a $10 investment. That was a domain name.
But there are many other questions that I am sure you have asked while reading this.
Research shows that these are the top 5 questions asked by the C-Suite when establishing buy in.
- How do you create engaging content that attracts readers?
- How do you find the time to produce quality content?
- What budget do I need to be effective?
- How do I convince management that it is worth investing in?
- What type of content should we be creating? Blog posts, videos, podcasts?
Content marketing has many skeptics because the ROI requires a long term strategy. The cry of “show me the money” has a hint of desperation and desire for quick results.
But persistence is required. Patience is a virtue.
From a distance the benefits of content marketing are not that obvious or apparent. But this the reality that I have experienced as a content marketer and entrepreneur.
- Content builds a digital asset hub that attracts leads and sales
- It grows credibility and trust as you publish content that answers client questions.
- Quality content can establish you and your brand as a thought leader in your industry that spreads influence and authority
- Educates your prospects and clients that builds loyalty and turns them into fans and advocates
So what is content marketing?
It is the effective use of content that informs, educates (and sometimes entertains and inspires) customers to discover you, trust and buy from you.
The part that isn’t often appreciated is that if it is done with persistence and with the long game in mind the content becomes an asset that keeps giving.
- People doing research will find the answers from your website when performing a Google search.
- They will discover your YouTube video in a tweet or on Facebook.
- Register for your webinar and buy your product or service.
That is why you need to change your mindset and game from just advertising to digital asset building.
That’s content marketing.