Email marketing is alive and kicking, and it’s successfully creating meaningful opportunities for millions of…
The term ‘content creation’ doesn’t appear to have a single, definitive point of origin, nor is it attributed to anyone in particular. And that’s probably because ‘content’, prior to the digital landscape we now have, was largely synonymous with media produced for print, radio, and television.
The essence of marketing – to promote a product, service, or brand – hasn’t really changed, but the methods and channels for doing so have evolved beyond all recognition by comparison.
Here’s what marketing looked like before the rise of digital content creation:
Marketers relied heavily on traditional forms of advertising like print media (newspapers, magazines), billboards, television, and radio commercials. These were often the go-to strategies for mass communication.
Public Relations (PR)
Press releases, news articles, and media relations were used to gain exposure and manage the public image of a brand. Many companies had PR agencies or in-house teams dedicated solely to these activities.
Direct mailing of promotional material like catalogues, newsletters, and special offers was common. Although less targeted, this method was effective in reaching a larger demographic.
Before the internet made it easy to share reviews and testimonials, word-of-mouth was a powerful marketing tool. Marketers often used incentives or special offers to encourage happy customers to spread the word.
Events and Sponsorships
Brands would sponsor or host events to get their name out there and directly interact with potential customers. Trade shows, sporting events, and festivals were commonly used platforms.
In-store displays, endcap marketing (a display for a product placed at the end of an aisle), and sales promotions were common methods to attract attention to products in a retail environment.
Though not particularly loved, telemarketing was an effective way to reach customers directly, especially for B2B (business-to-business) companies.
Brochures, leaflets, and other types of marketing collateral were often distributed in various locations or through direct mail to educate potential customers about products or services.
Before digital analytics, marketers relied heavily on surveys, focus groups, and field studies to understand consumer behaviour and preferences.
The basic principles of creating something of value to attract, engage, and retain customers haven’t changed for hundreds, possibly thousands of years. And, whilst many of the above have stood the test of time and remain largely relevant, the medium, methods and opportunities have had to evolve to keep up with our fast-moving, online/digital audience.
By the late nineties and early noughties, businesses began to see the internet as a critical channel for marketing. The phrase ‘content creation’ emerged organically within the collective lexicon of marketers, writers, and digital producers, and is now the catch-all term used to describe various forms of digital production. This included written articles and blog posts to videos, infographics, podcasts, and more, and the act of using content in this way is generally referred to as ‘content marketing’.
But what does content creation actually mean for businesses striving for relevance and competitive advantage? Or, perhaps more specifically, what does it mean for business owners? What do they need to do with it?
Content creation is not just about filling your website or social media feeds with random information. It is about systematically adding substantial value to your business by providing a treasure trove of knowledge, experience, and both objective and subjective authority in your industry. Unfortunately, this sentiment is completely lost on many – including some marketers – even though the continuous delivery of fresh, well-researched content indicates to your clients and potential customers that you’re interested in helping and educating them, not just making a quick sale.
Long-form Articles: writing content that is around 1,500 – 2,000 words demonstrates your deep knowledge of a particular subject. Long-form articles help rank your content better in search engines and establish your brand as an authority in your field. “The depth of long-form articles allows you to provide a comprehensive view on your chosen topics, thereby helping you appear as an expert,” says renowned marketing speaker Marcus Sheridan.
Blog or News Posts, typically around 300-500 words, are perfect for frequent updates and providing current, timely information. They also help humanise your brand when sharing company news and engaging with your audience on a more personal level.
Social Media Posts: quick, catchy, and easy to consume, social media posts are perfect for maintaining an ongoing dialogue with your audience. They can be used to share news and updates (e.g. pointing to your long-form articles and blog posts), or even just to entertain and engage.
Video Content: favoured by many (mainly younger generations – Millennials, Gen-Z and beyond), videos have become the most engaging type of content to date – just look at the meteoric rise of TikTok). Whether it’s a how-to video, a behind-the-scenes look, or a brand story, videos can often communicate your message more powerfully than written content.
The Evolution of Content Marketing – Then and Now.
Today’s modern marketers are arguably less concerned with traditional values and methods of marketing, but it’s interesting to compare some of these fundamental differences:
Targeting and Personalisation:
- Then: Traditional methods were often a ‘shotgun’ approach where broad messages were sent to a wide audience.
- Now: Digital marketing allows for precise targeting. Business owners can use data analytics to personalise content for specific demographics or even individual consumers.
Interactivity and Engagement:
- Then: Traditional marketing was generally one-way communication. Businesses would broadcast their message and hope it resonated. We refer to this as passive marketing, and you can read more about the difference between passive and active marketing here
- Now: The interactive nature of digital platforms allows for active, instantaneous two-way communication. Businesses can engage with their audience in real time, fostering relationships, a sense of community, and building loyalty.
Speed and Agility:
- Then: Traditional marketing campaigns required significant lead time for planning and execution.
- Now: Digital marketing can be much more agile, with campaigns developed, deployed, and tweaked in real time, based on immediate results and feedback.
- Then: It was challenging to directly measure the impact of a TV advert or a billboard.
- Now: Digital analytics tools allow marketers to track various metrics like engagement rate, click-through rate, and ROI in real time.
- Then: High costs were associated with traditional methods like print and TV ads, often limiting access to larger businesses.
- Now: Digital marketing provides multiple channels and platforms across multiple media types and can be way more cost-effective, enabling even small businesses to have a global reach.
Variety of Content Types
- Then: Options were relatively limited to what could fit in a print ad, radio spot, or TV commercial.
- Now: Businesses can produce an array of content types like blogs, videos, podcasts, webinars, social media posts, etc., tailored to different segments of their audience.
Credibility and Trust:
- Then: Trust was often built through brand longevity and word-of-mouth.
- Now: Businesses can establish credibility more quickly by producing valuable, expert content that solves problems or educates their audience.
Real time Adaptability:
- Then: Once a print ad was out or a TV spot aired, there was no turning back, irrespective of its effectiveness or errors it might have contained.
- Now: Digital content can be updated, modified, or even withdrawn in real-time, based on its performance or feedback – or the mistakes found!
Ownership of Channels:
- Then: Businesses had to rely on third-party platforms like newspapers or TV channels.
- Now: Businesses can own their channels (websites, social media profiles, etc.), giving them more control over their messaging and brand image.
Benefits of Content Creation for Businesses
SEO (search engine optimisation) has been on our radar long enough to be part of everyday language, particularly among business owners. It doesn’t mean everyone knows what it means, but anyone with a website, for example, will have heard the phrase and be encouraged to integrate it as part of their strategy.
Love it or hate it, executed well, SEO is crucial for establishing a presence in Google.
If people are searching for the products and services your business is offering, SEO is crucial. Why? Because, as explained by Marketing expert Neil Patel, “Google loves fresh content.” He’s highlighting the critical role that regularly updated and valuable content plays in SEO. Google aims to provide its users with the most relevant and up-to-date information. Therefore, websites that frequently update their content are more likely to be viewed by Google’s algorithms as valuable, dynamic, and relevant sources. In turn, this can positively influence their ranking in search engine results pages.
Focusing on creating the right type of content that adds value to your audience will have a measurably positive impact, and you’re far more likely to attract the right audience. According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing generates over three times as many leads as outbound marketing and costs 62% less.
Brand awareness is a significant and important aspect of marketing, where the power of content creation to inform people about who you are and what you do cannot be understated. Statistics indicate that companies publishing regular blog posts produce 67% more leads per month than those who don’t.
Brand awareness marketing also enables you to target your audience, particularly if you’re selling a service or product that is relevant to a particular demographic.
Key Takeaways for Your Own Content Creation
Audit your current content: Take a step back and evaluate what you already have. Ask yourself, is it achieving what you want? Is it directed at the right audience? Does it correctly and accurately represent you/your business?
Educate, don’t just sell. Use your content to solve problems, not just to push your product. There’s a lot to be said for giving away your intellectual property and using it to educate and inform others. The benefits will far outweigh what you might consider to be the risks.
Be consistent. If you believe there are not enough hours in the day and you’ll begin creating content when you have time, you will never have time. For content creation to be effective, you must be consistent – whether once a week or once a month. Just make the effort to publish regularly.
Engage with your audience. If you solicit reviews via a platform such as Google Reviews, Feefo, Trip Advisor or any others, always respond to comments and messages. Engaging with your audience shows you’re human and that you care.
Use the data that’s available to you. Your website should have Google Analytics integrated to keep track of website activity. Use the data to see what’s working and what isn’t, but don’t get bogged down in the detail. Use it like a drunk uses a lamppost: for illumination, not support.
Consider co-creating content with others in your field in order to expand your reach. It may sound counterintuitive, but collaborating can be a great way to raise collective awareness and share the spoils.
Finally, if you’re already actively marketing, on whatever scale, consider taking our marketing strategy health check questionnaire or the marketing audit health check questionnaire to ascertain where you are on your marketing journey.
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