I don’t think that I’m alone in
the way that I behave as a consumer. If I immediately sense that I’m being sold
more than I’m being told, I’ll turn tail and run. I’m looking for substance, and
I don’t have time to waste. I want to learn all that I can from the most
well-informed and readily available source. If that source is both credible and
reliable—and turns out to be the supplier of something that has captured my
interest—I’ll favor that company when I’m ready to make a purchase.
These feelings are the result of traditional marketing techniques, which are
becoming increasingly undesirable and ineffective. In turn, content marketing
is on the rise. A vast portion of the consumer audience, in both B-to-B and
B-to-C markets, has found innumerable means of acquiring information that is
free of advertising or marketing “spin.”
Therefore, presenting information in a manner that appeals to such cautious and
thoughtful consumers gives marketers an invaluable edge. Create with the intent
to inform, become an expert in the field in which you do business, and present
information of value in an informed and authoritative manner, and you’ll
attract that audience.
In the technology space, computer networking giant Cisco produces Unleashing IT magazine in collaboration
with Intel, and consistently delivers content that appeals to executives both inside
and outside of the traditional information technology community by presenting
timely, technology-related information on topics such as cloud architectures;
the presence, value and possible threat of Big Data; and forecasting data
center traffic growth; and advice on practical applications of technology to
reduce cost and decrease the complexity of conducting business. To appeal to a
wide spectrum of business leaders, the content is broad, yet still deep enough
to demonstrate the expertise necessary for Cisco to be considered an
authority—or at least to be taken seriously.
Another example of an effective content marketing approach is Patagonia Inc. Since 1990, Patagonia has published Field Reports, a series of environmental
and wilderness exploration essays intended to inspire the outdoor audience,
offering the personal views of athletes, travelers and adventurers who
accomplish extraordinary things—with or without the use of Patagonia’s
products—setting a powerful example for consumers and, all the while,
captivating interest, and driving demand and future sales.
Both of these examples rely on the understanding and appreciation of the
interests and motivations of the companies’ audiences. The secret behind
content marketing’s success is to shift the conversation toward your customers’
interests. Talk to them about what they want to hear, and remind them that you
might offer something that could be of use.
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