Content (marketing) is King! Let’s define and discuss the fundamentals of web-based content marketing because, frankly, too many business owners misunderstand the purpose and methodology of this marketing strategy. To start, let’s get one thing clear: content marketing is brand building. I know it’s hard to believe, but hear me out.
Hard Sell vs. Soft Sell
Let’s start by defining the two basic schools of thought in marketing: the hard sell vs. the soft sell (AKA outbound marketing vs. inbound marketing).
The “hard sell” refers to finding customers and directly offering your pitch, such as through a targeted ad or a marketing email. The “soft sell” refers to attracting customers by going to where they are and offering help or entertainment that is in some way related to your product, service or brand.
The soft sell succeeds by making customers feel as if it was always their own idea to do business with you, which is not the effect achieved through the hard sell.
Brand Building is Soft Selling
Soft selling can feel synonymous with brand building because that’s essentially what you’re doing. You make your brand obvious, entertaining and/or useful in the places where your customers spend much of their time, whether it’s a live event at the Staples Center, Facebook on a smartphone, or the checkout page on your website. But you should always do it in a way that improves the audience’s perception and awareness of your brand.
By building up your brand within your target audience, you ensure future success because those potential customers will eventually need your actual product or service – either from you or a competitor – so it really helps to close the deal if your brand is the first brand that they think about when they’re suddenly ready to buy.
It’s a very convenient form of marketing for both the customer and the brand because customers feel as if they aren’t being pushed to buy, and once a brand is aware of where the target spends time, 50% of the work is just being there while the audience is there.
Content Marketing is Brand Building
Content marketing is a strategy that marketers use to raise brand awareness by engaging the interests and needs of the target audience through the distribution of free tutorials, free entertainment, free advice, free downloadables, and other free media. The goal is to convince your audience that your brand is THE authority in your industry, so your brand naturally comes to mind when the customer thinks of your industry or related topics. If you do this correctly, when the customer is finally ready to buy, he naturally turns to your brand, not the competitors.
But if you’re giving away all your secrets, advice and tutorials for free, why would any customer ever want to pay you?
You may find that you offer a lot of free advice, free tools, free documents and much more than the customer could ever use in a lifetime, but he probably doesn’t have the time to do it all himself, much less understand it all. That’s why he’s always looking for help on your blog – after all, you’ve been his indirect mentor for weeks, months or years! And now that he’s ready to commit, he wants to do it the right way, your way. That’s when the customer will hire you.
The Difference Between a Battle and a War
Every blog post is a miniscule battle (one of thousands of battles) that could eventually turn into a small victory in a never-ending war, so don’t expect any single post to be “the one that goes viral and makes you millions”. It almost never happens that way, and when it does, it’s almost never intentional. Content marketing is about building up your brand by gaining the audience’s trust and respect in a memorable way.
1. Soft selling is a type of marketing that makes the customer feel as if it was always his idea to do business with you.
2. Brand building is a type of soft sell.
3. Content marketing is a type of brand building.
4. Content marketing works by distributing free media that is clearly related to your brand and labeled with your brand.
5. The goal, of course, is to make the customer think of your brand whenever they think of your field of expertise, so when they are ready to buy, they start with your brand.
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