Editor’s note: We are once again honored to have a guest post from Mr. Dan Bischoff (his bio is at the end of this post). Thank you, Dan!
In online marketing circles, content marketing is the new thing. It builds a brand, establishes thought leadership, is the engine running successful social media campaigns, increases search engine rankings, creates interest and awareness, drives website traffic, and generates leads.
While there’s been a lot of recent adoption with content marketing in blogs, newsletters, podcasts, videos, whitepapers, graphics, etc., it’s nothing new. Here’s a brief history (taken from this video from Content Marketing World):
- In 1895, John Deere published The Furrow, a magazine giving farmers free tips and advice on how to grow their crops and be better at what they do. Now, the Furrow has 1.5 million circulation in 40 countries and 12 different languages.
- In 1900, Michelin published “The Michelin Guides,” a 400-page guide that helped drivers maintain their cars and find decent lodging.
- in 1904, Jell-O distributed free copies of a recipe book that contributed to sales of more than $1 million by 1906.
- In the 1930s, P&G created radio vignettes with brands like Duz and Oxydol (hence, the “soap opera”).
- In 1982, Hasbro partnered with Marvel to create a GI Joe comic book.
- In 1987, LEGO Launches Brick Kick’s Magazine.
- In 2001, spending on custom content nears $20 billion.
- In 2004, Microsoft launches first major custom blog, Channel 9.
- In 2009, the average company company spent $1.8 million per year on content creation and distribution.
- In 2010, 25% of marketing budgets are spent on content marketing and 88% of all brands use content marketing.
Throughout these milestones, there has been one constant: The power of story combined with free, relevant information, builds a brand. There’s never been a better chance for companies to turn their business into a resource for people. There’s never been a better opportunity to turn your company into a media company.
But how do you do it?
Whether it’s through blogs, videos, images, podcasts, or something else, use the platform you know best. People consume content in all types of forms. If you’re a writer, start a blog. If you’re good at video, do what Blendtec and OraBrush do. They focus almost entirely on videos. How you do it, however, isn’t near as important as following these points:
1. Be Relevant. This is most important. Make sure your content is relevant to your audience. With The Furrow, John Deere gave relevant information to help customers be successful farmers. It wasn’t all about their tractors, it wasn’t a big ad, rather it was a useful magazine their customers wanted and needed. Make sure your content gives free information and tips, or cover trends and news about the industry. Do that, and your customers will similarly want and need what you offer.
2. Be Entertaining. If it’s irrelevant, make it entertaining. Have you seen the “Will it Blend” videos? Watching a blender grind an iPad to pulp is never going to help anyone make a better smoothie. But it will generate more than 12 million views.
3. Be Consistent. If you don’t plan on producing good content consistently, then you’re wasting time. Dedicate yourself to providing great new content at least 2-3 times a week. When you’re starting, keep publishing consistent content to build an audience, even if it feels like you’re talking to crickets.
And that’s the blueprint to get started. Content is king, so polish that crown!
About the Author: Dan Bischoff is the Director of Communications for Lendio, an online service helping business owners find viable capital. He manages the Lendio blog, is a co-host on the Entrepreneur Addiction Podcast, and is a former journalist who has had stints at the Associated Press, the Salem Statesman Journal, the Deseret News and the Park Record.