These days marketing people talk a lot about content marketing. There’s even a post on Wikipedia explaining content marketing as:
. . . any marketing format that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content (also known as “content recommendation”) in order to acquire customers. This information can be presented in a variety of formats, including news, video, white papers, ebooks, infographics, case studies, how-to guides, Q&As, photos, etc.
Content marketing is focused not on selling, but on simply communicating with customers and prospects. The idea is to inspire business and loyalty from buyers by delivering consistent, ongoing valuable information.
That’s actually a pretty good summary of what content marketing is about. There’s just one problem: The prospects you’re trying to reach aren’t all the same. You can’t just line your prospects up like ducks in a row and feed them the same content. Your content needs to fit the “duck.”
Some of the content you create should be broad in nature. It should still be valuable, helpful information, but it needs to appeal to a broader audience. Your blogs, for instance should deliver quality information that is helpful for understanding or even solving a general problem. You’re casting a wide net with this kind of content. People at various levels of interest may respond. They’re potential leads—but they’re not leads, yet.
That’s why you have another level of content. This level is more specific. It’s more detailed. It requires a bit more commitment from the person who wants it. So within your blog, you may have a link that allows readers to request additional information. Someone who requests this kind of information becomes an actual lead. He or she demonstrates some commitment in that they are willing to give up contact information (usually an email address) in exchange for the content you’re offering. They’re also demonstrating commitment in that they are willing to invest time reading additional material (such as a special report or a white paper).
Not all leads, however, are created equal. You’ll want to cultivate or nurture those leads by offering them appropriate additional information—perhaps by using an email nurturing campaign.
A lead that continues to show interest (by continuing to request more specific information) may finally merit a phone call to address his or her specific needs. By this point, your lead is a highly qualified lead—and you have a much better chance of winning this person as a customer.
This is really the essence of inbound marketing. It’s pulling potential leads in with content that helps them solve a problem or make a decision. Then it allows them to select themselves as qualified leads based on their continued involvement.
If you’d like more information about inbound marketing versus (conventional) outbound marketing, we invite you to download our free Inbound-Outbound Marketing: Battle Royale white paper that compares the two approaches to marketing. (By the way, this link is an example of what I was talking about earlier!)
Content marketing is a powerful way to turn “lookers” into leads, qualify them, and then turn those qualified leads into customers. But to do it successfully, you need to have your ducks in a row. Just remember, that not all “ducks” are created equal. Make sure your content marketing strategy matches the right content to the right reader.