Article # 3 in The Rules of Marketing Series
Content marketing: what it is, how to do it, including a case study example and program!
What is Content Marketing?
Per the Content Marketing Institute “content marketing” is:
“The marketing and business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience [your prospects] – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”
In other words, it is a knowing method of getting your message into the hands of your potential customers. Rather than using ads, billboards or mailers to push your message across, content marketing provides valuable information to build trust and confidence.
Gradually, your valuable content builds familiarity and a sense of community among potential customers so they come looking for you as soon as they need your product or service.
Content marketing feels new because it’s only been named and developed as its own subject since the new millennium. But in fact, every newsletter, booklet or article that helped a potential customer understand how to utilize a company’s products has been based on this strategy. For example, John Deere, the farm equipment company, began publishing a magazine called The Furrow in 1895. Obviously, content marketing has been around quite a while.
What Content Marketing Means to You
Content marketing applies to nearly every business or industry. You just have to understand the basic principles and get clever with your particular customers.
That said, it can helpful to look at examples of it in use so that you can see how it would apply to your specific niche. Let’s get practical with it. I’ll choose an uncommon industry to show you how it could apply everywhere.
Let’s look at how a small tutoring center could use content marketing to attract new customers. This is a business everyone can relate to, yet very few people would actually understand how to market.
Sample Content Marketing Strategy for a Tutoring Center
The staff and management of the center start by clearly envisioning their ideal client and that client’s needs.
Let’s assume their prime client is the mother of an 8 to 18-year-old child. The staff then asks 30 of these women about their biggest challenges in relation to their children’s educations.
It turns out that getting their kids through homework each day is a battle. The kids often fib about assignments and seldom put their best efforts into the work. They listen to the problems and troubles mothers have with their children and start creating an outline of interesting videos, articles and other content which helps the moms solve these problems.
By providing potential clients with plenty of valuable content, the tutoring center proves their expertise and becomes a thought leader in the minds of their prospects. However, they never actually give away their primary service for free (which is one-on-one tutoring).
Lastly, before embarking on their content marketing campaign, they work out an outline of the content they’re going to create and place all these different ideas on a calendar stretching over the next few months. Now they don’t have to think about what they are going to create for any particular week – they just execute.
Sample Content Outline for a Tutoring Center
Here are the content elements that should be used for this campaign.
These do NOT have to be fancy, but can be very simply shot with iPhones or inexpensive video cameras. A corner of a classroom or small study setup would make a good background. They would publish these videos on YouTube and on their blog, then share them via social media and email.
Example topics would be:
- How to set a homework schedule that still leaves time for fun
- Running efficient homework time, from start to finish
- Surviving science projects
- How to have productive conversations with your children about problems in school
- 10 ways to inspire your child to get creative with homework assignments
- The ideal study space for getting homework done
With schools there are often excellent photo opportunities and with smartphones these days, everyone has a camera (to get some bright ideas see our article 10 Ways To Use A “Selfie” To Boom Your Business).
Some quick content is a photo and caption of an interesting event such as a celebration, students doing practical assignments, etc.
c. Downloadable booklet
“A Mother’s Guide to Helping Her Children Succeed in School” as a title could be used as a short guide that gives the top tips and advice the tutoring center would want any parent to know.
The center would regularly publish articles on their blog. By sharing these via social media and sending them out to their email list, they regularly have people visiting their website to read their newest posts.
Example topics for articles would be:
- Helping your child deal with bullying in school
- What to do when your child complains about her teacher
- How to deal with your child’s school administration
- When is it truly necessary to change your child’s teacher or school?
- Interacting with your school about study assignments
- Helping your child develop simple educational goals
Podcasts are basically short audio recordings – like radio shows over the internet. The center could create podcasts and share them over social media. Ideas include:
- Interviews with teachers on the best support they get from parents
- Interviews with school administrators on what they wish parents knew
- Interviews with parents who developed workable systems of getting their kids through their homework.
f. Finally, an all-day event
The tutoring center could hold an open house or another similar event. Tutors and teachers could speak and it could include booths featuring different study products and services to help parents with their children’s educations. All services and products complement the tutoring service, none compete. The event is filmed (again can just be informal smartphone video), photographed (ditto) and summarized with who attended, their reactions and feedback, etc.
What the Tutoring Center does with these Things
All of these articles, videos, photos and so forth, will need to be distributed.
For example, the tutoring center should:
- Post them on their blog, which will be part of their website
- Share them multiple times on Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter
- If appropriate for a business/professional audience, LinkedIn may also be an option
- Share different appeals, descriptions or features highlighted each time, and other data of interest to parents
- Upload videos to YouTube, where they can be embedded and distributed by students in social media, etc.
- Distribute through other blogs/websites, in your industry, by simply approaching them and asking if they would be interested.
Become the Authority Using These Tools
As you can see content marketing is immensely valuable.
Regardless of which type or types of content you create, if you provide real value to people, they will recognize you as a leader in your industry. You’ll be referred to their friends as “I saw this interesting article about [topic] the other day…” and so on.
More importantly, when they are looking for a service you provide, they will then think of your company.
So start creating your content today.
We can help you if you need it. For our clients we produce content on a regular basis, and we automate some of these tasks. For example, we install software on website that automatically distributes content on social media that we’ve either set up for the client or they have themselves.
So, as always, feel free to contact us.
To your success!