The best marketing IS content.
That’s why so many folks are all bananas over content marketing. And yet, it’s not a new thing.
It’s on the verge of being the Only thing.
I’m not saying Advertising is Dead or all marketing should be content marketing, or any other crazy declaration that people desperate for good headlines or lots of visitors make.
I’m saying think about the television commercials you remember. Chances are it was entertaining or informative, or relevant to you in some other way.
Think of your favorite website. It’s not one that parrots statistics at you or has a bunch of dry catalog descriptions reformatted as blog posts. It makes you laugh or think.
Whether it’s an ad, a book, an infographic or a blog post, you like it because it’s content to you, even if it’s also marketing.
I was reading a blog post at Slideshare the other day, and a quote from one of the slides thrust me into about half a day of introspection. (Only good thing about the flue is having time for such things.)
“We need to stop interrupting what people are interested in and be what people are interested in.”
Apparently, Craig Davis said this. And what had me pondering for half a day was – are there truer words in today’s marketing?
I don’t think there are.
You’ve heard this before, I’m sure. From the first time I heard it, I was pissed because I’ve always believed that, but never thought to articulate it so well.
Learning to Disappear
If you can keep that in mind when you’re creating content, it’s hard to go wrong. But it begs the question – how do you know what content to create?
It may seem obvious to those of us who guide content creation for a living, but this is so new to the rest of the world. My secret weapon has always been researching the pain – if you can find the intersection between the pain your customers have and the relief your product provides, the path from where they are to where you want them to be is clear, and often the same.
Better yet, before you ever create the product, service – perhaps even the company – knowing what your customers desires and pains are, as well as how much they will pay for fulfillment or relief, sets you up to be successful from the beginning.
Since my background is in search, I look first to keyword research. Search seems to have the best research tools developed for it in web marketing, and it’s fairly easy and cost-effective to use or build resources that mine this data. Often it’s as simple as going to the discussions area of Google search, and typing in the word “help” and a relevant keyword.
For example, if I was thinking about writing a cookbook, and wanted to find a popular but untapped niche, I might type in “help cooking“, or “help recipes“. Then I’d explore the forums or discussion threads of the relevant sites. You could repeat this with Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, Twitter search or Google+ communities too.
You can also create surveys of your target audience, using Google, use data from surveys already conducted by organizations like Pew Internet, or you can survey your own audience using tools like Survey Monkey.
And when you get these great insights into the thoughts of your customer? After you improve your product? It’s about building a road between what you sell and what your customer cares about.
Solve a small related problem, and get them on your mailing list.
Write a guest blog with how-to steps.
Create a video solving an annoying issue.
Create a community around an existing movement to right a wrong.
Give the community that already exists a place to meet offline.
To disappear, get out of the mode of discussing what you do, who you are, and how you’re great, and get into the vein of revealing how you can help, what you can share, why you want to give.
It doesn’t mean don’t mention or sell your product. It just means, stop appearing desperate about it.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Lida