Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” Source: Content Marketing Institute

I like this definition because it specifies what your content is supposed to be doing for you. The old school ways of marketing have faded and given way to current trends in getting messages to people. Consumers have become more in tune with marketing messages and they are selecting what they want to see and hear. Pushing messages at them through ads doesn’t have the impact it once did. People are looking for information and want to increase their knowledge and understanding of topics that interest them. They seek out the information they want, when they want it.

Should this concern marketers? Only if they are unable or unwilling to adapt their methods to what serve the needs of their prospective clients. What is the first thing a potential new customer will be looking to do? Trust. They want to trust you. Earn their trust by developing content that will establish you as an expert in your field by sharing knowledge and insight about your industry. Give information with details then broadcast this to your networks. Those who are seeking information on this topic will find it and, if it’s good, will share it.

I see the four ‘C’s of content marketing as: Content, Connect, Collaborate, Community

The first ‘C’ is content. As a writer, my first thought when I hear the term ‘content’ is that it’s all about words. This is only one small part of the content available to website visitors. Yes, the headline or title will likely be what attracts someone to the article or blog post, but to keep them there they’ll want to see an interesting picture or illustration or a video or podcast.  All of these are content elements and the more variety you offer your readers, the better the chance that they’ll stay engaged on your site to learn more on the topic and about you. What content are you sharing with your readers?

If the content is hitting the right chord, your readers will connect with it. They’ll want to read more. They’ll subscribe to your newsletter or download your free ebook because what you say is resonating with them. Perhaps your content is satisfying a need they haven’t had fulfilled anywhere else. They may comment on your blog or email you a question. They are connecting with you because something you said or showed on your website means something to them. This is powerful stuff and not to be taken lightly. A website visit is a fleeting thing and you know that if someone is not getting what they want within the first few seconds of opening a web page, they are gone and become a bounce rate statistic.

In developing your website, blog or social media platform there is no reason you have to go it alone. Quite the contrary, in fact. Collaborating with designers, photographers and audiophiles will lend a level of professionalism to your online presence and improve the quality of your content. You may find mutually beneficial opportunities when partnering with other specialists, to the benefit of all your readers and fans.

The fourth ‘C’ for content marketing is ‘community’. Once all this wonderful content is developed, how is it shared? You often hear about videos going viral because so many people have viewed them. How does that really happen? Someone sees a great video and tell friends about it either through posting on their social networks, emailing the link or simply telling friends to check it out. If it’s really worth seeing, there will be a snowball effect. That’s what you’d like to achieve. The only way to really get there is by putting something online that is so compelling people can’t not share it.

Take a look at that definition at the top of the page. Are you producing content that is valuable and relevant to your target audience?

Marnie headshot is an SEO copywriter, author and online marketer. She works with small and medium-sized businesses to develop their marketing and communications and expand their customer base.

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