The saying goes that image is everything. Yet where does that image come from? Strong, informative content. Customers are like sponges, they are looking to soak up as much information as possible in order to make informed decisions. If you want their informed decisions to result in business for you or your client, content is key. First, lets define content marketing. Content marketing is positioning yourself as the source for relevant information about a topic or industry, building trust and credibility that keeps customers returning, putting you at the top of your competition. A recent survey posted on the distributed marketing blog found that the top content marketing tools were e-newsletters, company blogs, PR/articles for trade media, social networks, whitepapers, and e-books
. Within the same survey, 45% of marketers surveyed use content marketing as a lead generation tool while 55% do not. That is up from earlier in the year, where a survey in an article by Nicholas Kinports shows that a third of executives were unsure about content marketing
. Last time I checked, a third is bigger than a half so this indicates content marketing may be a growing trend. Ann Handley’s article about River Pools and Spas’ Marcus Sheridan showcases what integrating content marketing can do for you and your clients
When Sheridan changed his basic interpretation of his company to one that was content marketing specific, everything else changed for the better. Sheridan placed the focus on content, building trust and credibility with his willingness to discuss the good and the bad of his industry in a no-nonsense fashion. According to Handley, there are certain types of content marketing tools that are best for building trust and credibility. Competitive comparisons are her first tool, as customers need to know how you measure up to your competition. This is accomplished by creating a downloadable document, accessible online, that compares features of your product alongside competitors products. Her second tool involves using case studies to overcome objections early in the buying cycle. By addressing concerns upfront you significantly decrease the likelihood of your clients or customers going with someone else. Finally, Handley’s third tool is an FAQ page that addresses common questions as well as customer concerns about your company, client, product or product line. It is far better to address “the elephant in the room” and clarify your point of view than hide in fear of their reaction and skirt the issue. That is perhaps the worst thing you can do. These content marketing tools are important to consider at every stage of lead generation and content development. All parts should reflect a consistent tone and message that shows you know your industry inside and out. There should be no doubt that you know what is best for your customers. Using all of these tools correctly can increase your visibility, trust and credibility, making you a, if not the, go-to source within your industry. Sure, strategy, measurement and analytics are important, but content is the element that puts you a step above your competitors. Content is key. In fact, you might say content is everything.