In How To, What is

If you’ve received marketing advice recently or you’ve done your own research, you’ll have noticed the word ‘content’ cropping up with tedious regularity. Content this, content that… Never mind that you make the best ball bearings in Britain, what you should be producing, mate, is content.

So what is content and why is it important? 

Well, it’s not the opposite of discontent, despite how the word might make you feel. There is no mystique about it, content is what it’s always been – the substance that sits within the pages: words, pictures… in short, information. This article is a prime example. Why has it become so important? Because the marketing world has discovered the value of usefulness and it’s very excited about it.

For those of us from a journalism background, the idea of providing material that is genuinely useful, entertaining or both is nothing new. We spent endless hours trying to convince sales and marketing managers of the principle that if you give something for nothing, you will be rewarded with invaluable things like trust, respect and loyalty – things that lead not only to sales but to repeat sales. They didn’t get it at the time but they do now – now that their traditional methods have been rendered virtually impotent.

Two major changes have led to this: firstly, consumers have been given the power to avoid advertising. They can fast-forward through TV adverts, flick past magazine ads, ignore online banners, block pop-ups etc. Secondly, internet search engines have become so intelligent that they can now discern genuinely useful content from a load of words that tell you nothing or are just trying to sell you something. So if you want your website to rank high up the first page on Google, you need to populate it with some useful content.

Just when we thought there was no longer a call for it in the fast-paced digital age, suddenly the value of authoritative, well written and indeed lengthy content (aka journalism) has been rediscovered.

Where does that leave you as a ball bearing magnate with no desire to become a publisher? Never fear – your expertise is your content. You might need some help getting it out of your head and into a presentable format but that’s where Balance can help. Forget the sales spiel, tell ’em something they want to know. And guess what – they’ll regard you as an expert. There are many ways you can present it: a written article, a video, an info graphic, a webinar… it’s all content. But it all begins with words – a plan, a script, an outline.

So when you hear about a content marketing strategy, what they’re talking about is putting your marketing resources into creating useful, relevant information, that customers will stop and read and engage with. Significantly, you control the medium, be it your website, blog, magazine, email campaign, social media, whatever… It’s like putting an item in your shop window that makes passers by not only stop and look but come into the shop to find out more.

And as every good salesperson knows, once they’re inside your shop, the rest is a doddle.

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