Let’s play a game. It’s called “Where is your next customer going to come from?” You get three guesses. After that, you need to refer back to your marketing strategy and maybe read up a bit on this new “fad” called content marketing. (Psst: It’s not really a “fad”. It’s always been around. Only the word is new.)
Despite all the mountains of research done on this subject, there is only one reason why anyone buys something: they want it. They may – or may not – need it, but they want it. You don’t need to look any further than your wardrobe to verify this fact.
Wanting something is related more with emotions rather than with the rational logic. Is your Google or Facebook ad going to do justice to this irrational requirement of creating wants in people? Especially with the adblockers on in browsers. Yes, you can buy likes and followers for your facebook page, but can you also buy the loyalty of 21k people?
Welcome to the world of content marketing. Content is king (or queen, to avoid gender bias) and there’s a reason why. Actually, there are 5 mega reasons why.
#1 Customer, Interrupted
Advertising is interruptive. Have you ever been irritated by an advert? I have been, lots of times. It’s the reason why I upgraded my adblock extension to adblock Plus. It’s also the reason why I wait for the 4 seconds to get over so I can click on “Skip ad NOWW” on Youtube.
Content marketing is creating content that people want to read, might even payto read. Because it isn’t interruptive. People actually enjoy reading informative articles, sending creative gifs to their friends, watching funny cat videos and alternative documentary style short videos which make a point apart from “buy my stuff right now”.
Such content is far more likely to get shared, as opposed to a paid ad. When people share, chances are, the post is getting shared with other people with similar interests – your target audience. The same people will be the irate viewers who will not think before clicking “I find this ad irrelevant” on facebook.
#2 Content Lives Forever. Sort of.
Remember Kolaveri di? I do. Content, once published, remains there for sort of forever, whatever ‘forever’ means in our fast paced environment. What’s more, it grows with time. The same post, even though published two years ago, can actually start to rank much higher in search results with time and yield growing ROI. Depending on how well you do your content, it can rank higher very, very quickly.
Ads, on the other hand, are run as campaigns. With time, they sort of fizzle off, become a thing of the past. Print ads are used more often for wrapping books and stuff, rather than as an inspiration for buying something. Imagine: all that money you spent on that photo shoot to bring out that ad, only to be used as the wrapping paper before the fancy wrapping paper.
Content marketing is not just a spend, it is an investment. Advertising is, er, a spend.
#3 “But I’m a Startup! How Much Does this Cost?“
You may be surprised, but content marketing can have varying budgets. Like they say, “there is something for everyone”. Start with the lower end of the spectrum, do it well, and keep scaling up. That is how content marketing works. For example, posting on LinkedIn doesn’t cost a dime! But yes, if you want content marketing to really work for you, you need some creative brains churning out great content tirelessly. It might still not cost as much as what you would spend on banner and print ads, plus, it gives a higher ROI.
No, I didn’t just make up that fact. Here is a neat infographic by the nice people at Contently, who did all the research to actually show how content marketing gives higher ROI for the same spend. If you are a start-up, ‘ROI’ is probably what you spend your time dreaming and daydreaming about, every day.
#4 Brand Thyself Wisely
Content is the smartest way of brand building. You actually get to talk about what differentiates you from others, without being boring. No, you need not talk about it, but you can talk around it, if you know what I mean. If your food business is not just another order-from-my-app thing but also something more, that ‘something more’ story can be told in your content. Your brand values find a real voice in the real world and are heard by the people who care about the same things as you do.
#5 We Buy From Those We Trust
Lastly, not leastly, we like to buy stuff from people we trust. You earn people’s trust by giving them nicely done content day after day, increasing their knowledge or giving them a laugh. I think we also like to buy from people who make us laugh. I can’t find a study for it, but I’m pretty sure there is one out there somewhere.
Content marketing is like building a relationship with your to-be customer. Over a period of time, that bond grows. People often “bookmark” certain sites in their minds to buy stuff from at a later time, maybe because they are in the middle of a meeting or something. Just a few right words somewhere can trigger the click on that “buy” button any time, once that bookmark is in place!
Content marketing is the “soft sell” as compared with the “hard sell”. It is the,“Will you join our house-warming party?” as compared with the “I showed up here (uninvited) because I think you guys are partying and we should all party together.” It is like overhearing the story of a fruit vendor on the Mumbai local, and then deciding to buy some fruits from him, because you are hungry and you like his brave story so much.
Content marketing is like sharing a tiny bit of the story of your own business with the world, and letting people like you.
PS: We buy from the people we like 🙂