Before jumping onto the bandwagon that content marketing is just another cost, understand that Americans spend over 10 hours a day consuming content across media platforms. To reach your target audience, it’s critical to be where they are. Creating content across a variety of media formats that are integrated into an overall marketing plan can efficiently meet a range of prospect and customer needs while eliminating duplicate efforts and reducing costs.

While it’s difficult to estimate specific cost reductions content marketing because every company’s structures and spending habits differ, here are examples that show how content marketing provides lower cost alternatives.

Increases branding

Regardless of where your content appears, it supports your branding efforts, often with lower creation costs and lower media costs. To this end, it’s important to have branding guidelines and integrate your content marketing needs and plans with your branding initiatives.

A prime example is Orabrush, which launched its product and built a brand around it on low-budget YouTube videos. (BTW, they’re one of the few products sold in a drugstore that has a pull strategy!)

Expands audience for your offering

Whether your content marketing appears on your internal media, third-party media sites or social media sites, it extends your potential market reach. Even better, it can be enhanced with the use of social sharing to yield earned media impressions. Of course, this strategy yields the greatest savings when the content is self-hosted since it reduces the cost of third-party media.

For instance, retailer Stacks and Stacks leverages its blog to drive traffic and sell products. Its blog discusses organizational issues that are near and dear to customers. Where appropriate, they link to specific products.

Supports purchase process

Wherever they buy, most consumers do some form of online research before purchasing. Detailed product information, instructions and related content give customers answers they’re seeking to make a decision. If you don’t provide this information, your competitors will.

Amazon is the granddaddy of customer reviews that help customers make decisions, often with a variety of content formats. This content has the added benefit of supporting the search optimization to improve rankings at no additional cost!

Aids search optimization

Keyword-rich content marketing such as expanded product descriptions, FAQs, blog posts, photographs and videos with related descriptions is an integral part of most search marketing plans.

Top Rank Marketing has leveraged its Online Marketing Blog. Every company, seeks to have a high search ranking, and related social media outposts to keep its search rankings high for popular keywords. For example, in a Google search for Internet marketing, Top Rank Online Marketing Blog is ranked second only to Wikipedia. In addition to using popular keywords, Top Rank Marketing’s secret is producing consistently strong, high-quality content. This content creation is the core of the company’s marketing spend.

Engages fans

Support your best customers by giving them additional ways to interact with your product. Options include providing more information about your products that have an understated selling message.

Fiskars created a special site called the Fiskateers, customers who enjoy everything and anything about scrapbooking or related to scapbooking. In addition to its blog, the Fiskateers’ site features a gallery customers’ work. This gives Fiskateers a place for bragging rights and provides readers with new and exciting scrapbooking ideas. Fiskars doesn’t pay for this additional content except to host and curate it.

Leverage customer-generated content

To enhance the authenticity of your content, add customer-created content. Since only a very tiny percentage of consumers participate, use formats that require limited customer input while also limiting potential negative feedback. Examples include customer galleries for photogenic products like travels and scrapbooking and customer reviews that can leverage third-party technologies.

For example, Threadless has put user content at the center of its offering. Customers submit their T-shirt designs, and customers vote on the ones they want. Giving customers the T-shirts they want obviously means they are most likely to buy them. What’s more, this significantly lowers design and production costs because the company is not paying designers for artwork and making T-shirts readers don’t like and won’t buy. What a win-win!

Gives PR efforts additional media entry points

By placing content on a variety of vehicles such as blogs and Twitter, content marketing provides additional ways for journalists to contact your firm about a variety of topics.

IBM has found that allowing employees to blog supports its PR strategy. For example, IBM employees tap their expertise to blog about Lotus Notes and Lotus Domino. The blog posts inform members of the media about these popular IBM products, and build positive professional relationships with the press, which can lead to favorable coverage.

Content marketing may seem like another marketing cost. But when properly applied and practiced, it can be integrated into your overall plan to make your marketing more efficient and streamlined. By integrating various forms of content creation and distribution, marketing is more efficient across the entire corporate communications function. This can reduce overlapping efforts and costs with planned content creation.

Are there any other suggestions that you’d add to this list where content marketing can help reduce business costs? If so, what are they? Please add your suggestions in the comments section below.

Read more: How Much Should You Really Be Spending On Content Marketing?