Written by:  Christina Metcalf

If you’ve ignored the most popular trend in marketing over the past five years, you may not know anything about content marketing. But before you decide whether it’s for your business or not, you need to understand what it is and how it works.

 What is Content Marketing?

In essence, content marketing is the practice of providing helpful, entertaining, and informative resources for your customers. Generally, you give them away with the goal that this content (written, auditory, or image-based) will move potential customers through your sales funnel, with them ultimately buying from you in the end. It’s also supposed to help people get to know, like, and trust you – key components for people wanting to do business with you.

Sounds like magic doesn’t it?

 Create content. Get sales. Gain loyal customers.

 So, why am I anti-content marketing? I’m not, and you shouldn’t be either. It’s incredibly effective when done well. But if you’re not willing to do the following, then you should just skip it all together.

Don’t Waste Your Time on Content Marketing If…

It’s All About Your Objectives

If you’re going to produce what you want, and talk about only what your business is interested in, and what you want your audience to know, don’t attempt content marketing. This is not elementary school. While there is often an educational component to content marketing, think of it more as college offerings. In elementary school, students are taught the basics whether they enjoy the subject or not. By the time they are in college, they’re taking classes of interest to them. Your content must interest your audience in order to be successful. No getting around this.

You Can’t Commit

Good content marketing takes time. There is no army of readers waiting to descend on your content the moment you decide to publish a blog. You need to commit to a schedule and cultivate an audience. There are no short cuts, aside from wearing a Chewbaca mask and filming a video from the front seat of your car.

You Don’t Want to Listen

Your audience may love to read but you only want to produce podcasts. You want to show off your cerebral side but your customers just want to be entertained.

If you can’t meet your audience’s needs and preferences, you won’t have an audience.

The audience will tell you what they want. The best content marketers can listen to that and create something their audiences are interested in, while still getting their business objectives met.

You’re Going to Try It Out

In the wise words of Yoda, “Do or do not. There is no try.” If you go into content marketing with the idea of writing a blog post or two to see how it goes, you’re wasting your time. Do it or don’t do it. If just you want to bait the hook and see if anything bites, go fishing.

Finally, there is no point in content marketing if you’re not measuring the results. Producing good content – the kind your audience and Google will enjoy – takes time. It’s an investment. After all, you’re creating resources for your customers and potential customers.

Think of the resources as a “living” users’ manual on your company’s knowledge base. People who are trying to get to know you can access your library of content (or past posts) and understand who you are, what you know, and what you have to offer. If it aligns with what they’re looking for, you have a loyal customer.

This cannot be approached lightly or complacently. You’ll want a strategy. Give thought to your insights and how you can leverage them to meet your audience’s needs. Content marketing is not for the dabblers. It’s the new, and best, way to establish yourself in the hearts and minds of your customers.