Content marketing is all the rage these days. Everybody is buzzing about it. So are you and your business part of the buzz?

Suppose that you are a small business owner who doesn’t have the technical or literary background to be a ‘content expert’ how can you possibly make the most of this new concept? Do you really need a degree in marketing in order to promote your business successfully using this new ‘thing’ (content marketing that is)? Not really.

To make things easy, I will reveal the basic commandments of content marketing and how to take full advantage of it. There are 3 simple rules: know your customers, know your content, have a plan.

To begin with, it has to be said that content marketing is very different from any other form of marketing. Rather than being Push oriented (shouting sell, sell, SELL) it is more about Pulling customers in (people finding your content first and looking for what you have to offer them second). What this means is that more often than not, content would be the very first encounter between the prospective customer and your business. They might sign up for your newsletter before actually making a purchase, or randomly stumble upon your blog. Either way, this is where the magic has to happen. Having interesting, intriguing messages that deliver valuable content rather than simply advertising your product will ultimately mesmerize the prospect and Pull them in through the sales funnel.

Now that you are all clear about the importance of content marketing, we can go down to actual business.

1. Thou shalt know your customers

Have you ever received a commercial email that clearly does not speak to you? Imagine an elderly gentleman who has signed up to receive communications from the local pharmacy, thinking that he may get offers on vitamins and prescription glasses only to receive an email with the latest news from the cosmetics counter? Buy one get one free on mascaras anybody? You may be laughing now, but it certainly isn’t funny for the elderly gentleman. 

3 for 2 on skin care? Oh my, Can’t miss that offer!

Blunders like that will not only not bring you a sale, but you will actually push customers away. So what is the solution? Know who your readers are. Know who your target audience is: age group, gender, interests and hobbies. You cannot possibly serve everybody at the same time but do try to appeal to the majority or create different content for the different segments. Are you a florist? Maybe some of your clients would like to know more about how to keep their garden nice and neat, while others would be more interested in flower arrangements and wedding bouquets. Think about who your audience is and how you can possible deliver content that resonates with them.

2. Thou shalt provide good content

Given you have mastered the first commandment and you are very well aware of who your clients are and what they want, writing the actual content should be easy. A good rule of thumb is to stay customer-oriented; think about they would like to know, what would be of interest to them.

Content marketing is essentially a value exchange – your interesting content in return for the reader’s valuable time. So what makes your messages special? What is the significance and worth of your content? Always strive to provide something that is both engaging and informative; something that would compel readers to share with their friends and family.

3. Thou shalt have a plan

Writing blog posts and newsletters whenever the mood strikes is not really a feasible marketing strategy. You have got to have a plan. Think about an editorial calendar, writing down topics in advance so that you are not left trying to put something together hours before a newsletter (that you haven’t even started) is due to go out. Plan in advance.

Moreover, think strategically about what you would like to achieve by using content marketing: widen audience reach, brand promotion, encourage loyalty amongst existing customers? Set yourself goals and establish metrics to track how well you are doing. How would you know when you have reached your target if you haven’t set one to begin with? Just like with any other aspect of your business, having a clear plan is of paramount importance.

As you get on with employing Content as part of your marketing strategy, you will find it easier (that’s a promise). You will develop the skills and results will surely follow! Just be prepared for the horde of customers that would be stumbling through your doors!

Let me know what you think in the comments section bellow. Have you used Content Marketing before?