According to the Content Marketing Institute, Content Marketing is defined as “the marketing and business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” I mention this, because I would like to provide a little context for this post, a framework for what a clearly planned content marketing strategy should be.

Full disclosure: I’m about to rant. Please bear with me. To say that I’m passionate about content marketing would be an understatement.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve gotten into several heated arguments about various content marketing strategies, and why content marketing is so important for anyone who’s trying to build a brand, sell a product, or promote themselves in some meaningful way. Often, when I try to explain why companies should invest in these types of strategies, I stress the importance of writing articles that contain zero promotional content and exist strictly to provide value to customers and prospects within an organization’s target audience. These are actual things that real people have said to me when discussing the importance of content marketing in everyday business settings:

“If I can’t promote my products, why would I write a post? It’s not making me any money, and my goal is to sell things.”

“I would rather fill up my email calendar with promotions. This doesn’t seem very beneficial to me.”

“I understand that you would like to talk to me about strategy, but I need to focus on making money.”

They all sound kind of similar, don’t they? And, in essence, these people are saying that (1) writing articles is a giant waste of time, (2) it doesn’t make them money, and (3) adds no value to their businesses.

But It Does.

You see, by posting an article to your website that doesn’t try to shove your goods and services down people’s throats — no matter how awesome they might be — you are making yourself more credible. You are making yourself an expert in your industry. And if it’s a really great post that’s packed with keywords that mean something in your field, you will also drive search traffic to your site; people searching Google (or their favorite search engine) for an answer to their problem will find your post, read it, and perhaps click around after reading to learn a bit more about your business. They might even visit your site again if they found your content particularly valuable. The more this happens, the higher your site ranks across all search engines, and the more likely people are going to be to visit your site, creating a feedback loop of sorts.

Once you have created a really stellar plan, are posting regularly, and engaging with comments on your blog, you start to form relationships with your site visitors. They’ll begin to see you or your company as an expert, thought leader, or problem solver rather than a peddler of materials that they can probably get at a handful of other places. Whether these visitors are existing customers or prospective ones, this positive perception and the trust that people begin to develop in your brand is invaluable.

Think about it: when you trust someone, you’re more likely to have favorable opinions about them, return to their organization repeatedly, and purchase more from them. Why would your target audience be any different?

Need Help Getting Started?

I’ve come up with a few post topics for various industries, in case you’ve hit a wall. See my list below, or contact me if you have additional questions.
[su_column size=”1/2″]

Topics for Boutiques/Clothing Stores

  • This Season’s Trendiest Styles
  • Turn An Old, Drab Outfit Into Something Fab
  • What Your Shoes Say About You

Topics for Car Dealerships

  • Top Trends in Auto Technology
  • Why Having [THING IN YOUR CAR] Is Important
  • When Should I Replace My Car?

Topics for Mechanics

  • Quick Fixes for Flat Tires if You Can’t Get to A Mechanic
  • Why is [PROBLEM] Happening to My Car?
  • What Does My Mechanic Mean When He Tells Me [THING]?

[su_column size=”1/2″]

Topics for Outdoor Service Providers

  • Safety Necessities for [OUTDOOR ACTIVITY]
  • 3 Things All Expert [OUTDOOR ACTIVITY PEOPLE] Always Carry
  • Training Tips for [EXTREME OUTDOOR ACTIVITY]

Topics for Restaurants

  • The Top 10 Dishes You Should Make this Holiday Season
  • Quick & Simple [DISH NAME] Recipe
  • The Best Meal I Ever Had

Topics for Spas

  • Professional Haircare Tips
  • Beauty Tips to Keep Your Skin Glowing
  • Chemicals and Treatments to Avoid