Content is King

Beware! The article you are about to read is content marketing.

So, you might ask yourself, what exactly is “content marketing,” anyway? Well, it’s about creating content that resonates with your consumer so that she or he elects to share that information with others. The goal is to get your brand positive recognition by attracting and building an audience. You want to deliver information to your consumer that entertains or informs but does not feel like a sales pitch.

I’ve always been a fan of using content marketing tactics when crafting a digital marketing plan. Instead of just selling products, it’s a way to build trust, retention and loyalty with a target audience. After all, isn’t that what digital experiences are all about? The best brands create an experience with their consumers in which they dance back and forth with dialog, clicks, entertainment and information.

Connect With Your Audience

According to data from the Content Marketing Institute, 86 percent of business-to-consumer (B2C) marketers use content marketing in some form or another. This includes any marketing initiatives that drive positive interactions to persuade the audience to make a decision that creates a profitable outcome for your business.

Content marketing techniques include – but are not limited to – social media marketing, articles and blogs, newsletters, videos, webinars and branded entertainment. This very article is even a form of content marketing.

Although content marketing tactics are used by some of the world’s largest brands - such as P&G, Microsoft, Cisco Systems, Unilever and General Mills - it is not a practice achievable only by corporate giants. There are also many small- to medium-sized companies taking advantage.

Murray’s, a New York City cheese shop, created a cheese blog all about tips on entertaining and selecting the right variety of cheeses for different meals and events. It also has a unique cheese counter to help determine how many pounds you will need given the number of guests you are expecting. Murray’s blog contains helpful information on how to choose the right variety and food pairing tips.

In 2012, Chipotle launched a campaign it called “Cultivate.” It included a short animated film, Back to the Start, that depicts a farmer who deals with the ethical repercussions of changing his free-range farm into an industrial farm. The brand also created a section on the website that includes information about Chipotle’s “food with integrity” vision.

The company has posted content on food facts, humane animal farming and environmental stewardship. So far, the video has generated more than 7 million views on YouTube, and the campaign has seen more than 11 million Twitter impressions.

Another good example is Table-spoon.com, a community created by General Mills that includes content on multiple branded channels. The company developed its own website with unique recipes and leads on deals.

General Mills also extended content across many social media channels to facilitate a broader conversation and motivate sharing among its audience. It has upwards of 24,000 followers on Pinterest and more than 1 million Facebook fans.

Getting Started

The biggest challenges marketers face when creating a content marketing plan are finding the right budget allocation and consistently creating unique content. Many companies choose to outsource content generation, while others are able to manage the process in-house.

Either way, you need to be sure that you will have enough new content to keep people coming back for more. Keep it fresh and exciting, and tailor the content as much as you can to your target audience.

Maybe you could start a blog about your passion for food or put a few of your prized recipes online. You could also create an interactive menu, or perhaps create a wine and cheese guide.

One of the most important things to keep in mind when building any digital marketing campaign, especially one that includes content marketing, is that you’re only as good as the consumer experience. If the content doesn’t resonate with your target, then you will have a hard time launching a successful effort.

Whatever you decide to do, always remember to set clear, attainable goals and measure your efforts. Pretty soon, you’ll have followers knocking on your door and craving more delicious content from your brand.

AnneMarie Crivelli is the director of interactive advancement and innovation/client strategist at The VIA Agency, a Portland, Maine-based advertising agency. She can be reached at acrivelli@theviaagency.com

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