What is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is key to brand loyalty, and customer advocacy – but it’s much more nuanced than merely writing blog articles or recording podcast episodes.

Content marketing provides relevant, useful content to prospects and current customers. It aims to solve pain points without directly pitching products or services; focus on providing customers with value without directly selling to them. This builds feelings of goodwill and allows customers to see a brand as authentic and helpful rather than merely as a selfish corporation.

One of the strongest tools in content marketing is something that we’ve been exposed to since childhood: stories. Our brains are hardwired for stories, increasing neural activity five-fold and releasing oxytocin when we hear an especially good one (Contently).

The marketing experts at Contently have posited that there are 4 key pillars of great storytelling:

  1. Relatability or familiarity
    This allows the audience to relate to the story, which helps them to understand the content piece on a more personal level. This also helps the audience feel comfortable with being transported into the new world that the story inhabits.
  2. Novelty
    This element ties back to our “fight or flight” instinct; when we see something new, we are predisposed to pay attention to it, just in case it’s a threat. As a result, there’s a balance to be made between “new enough to capture interest” and “too new,” as the latter can be confusing and result in disinterest or fear.
  3. Tension
    The most exciting elements of stories result from conflict, specifically when there’s a gap between “what should be” and “what is.” The story ends when this gap is closed.
  4. Fluency
    Your story must be accessible and have a low barrier to entry. It’s recommended that content pieces are written at an elementary school level so that anyone can easily become immersed in it.

    Worried about using too much industry-specific jargon? There’s a great tool called the Up-Goer Five text editor, which limits you to using only the top 1,000 most frequently used words in the English language. If that sounds too restrictive, Microsoft Word also offers a reading level check for your documents.

It is also incredibly important to connect with customers on a personal level. MarTech Today suggests the following:

  1. Put the person first, and the persona second.
    Personalization is key, and this touch can make the difference between a customer or prospect viewing you as someone that cares vs. a cold, distant corporate entity.
  2. Tell a compelling story (using the above 4 elements).
    This piques curiosity and interest in the audience, which will lead them to want to learn more about your brand.
  3. Humanize your brand.
    Communicate your brand values in a relatable way so that consumers can easily understand, such as through analogies.
  4. Empathize with the audience, and show them how to get results.
    Detail how something happens, even if it’s unglamourous; recognize the struggle, instead of merely glorifying the job.

Keeping these ten points in mind will help you to optimize your content marketing efforts and deliver the highest possible value to your customers. Doing this consistently will keep these customers coming back, and will pay significant dividends to your brand sentiment.

Want to keep this advice with you in a more digestible format? Feel free to save the following infographic:

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