All hail King Content

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Andrew Hawkins examines the role of content marketing in your business.

Andrew Hawkins.
Andrew Hawkins.

What is content marketing? It is mid-2017 and in the world of marketing the jury still seems to be out as to what the term ‘content marketing’ actually covers, or when we started using it.

Content, of course, is information. The marine market in 2017 is maturing at a rate at which many businesses are finding it hard to keep up. The lines between the marine marketplace and the wider consumer marketplace have blurred. This blurring is, in a lot of ways, a result on the rise of modern content marketing.

Cathy Ackerman, a US-based PR practitioner, whilst confidently stating that content marketing costs 62% less than ‘traditional marketing and advertising’, suggests that just now “content marketing is fast becoming king”. The appropriately named Content Marketing Institute says: “Content marketing is a strategic approach focused on distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – and ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

A few key terms to take from that definition: strategic – readers of these columns will recall that I frequently use the term strategic. This is a good time to reinforce this. With your marketing you need to have an overall strategy, incorporating good content.
Clearly defined audience – research. In developing your strategy you need to know your market. Not in just general terms, not just stored in your head, not arrogantly claiming that you know better than anyone else, including the existing and potential customers. Define your customer base, who they are, where they are, how they will and want to absorb content, how you will deliver that content.

Profitable – ah yes, sales. We are all here to make a profit.

Choose your content

Think of how you personally operate as a consumer in a world where information is coming at us from all sides. As a consumer you have the choice of what to read, digest, and act on. You also have the choice as to how you consume it.

Content marketing is how we produce our ‘valuable’ content, and how we ‘distribute’ it in a way that your target market will make a choice to absorb above all the other information clutter.

“Content tactics are part of your marketing strategy, never a strategy on their own,” says Dave McCaughan, a communications consultant with over 30 years’ experience.

Dave goes onto suggest that content has been part of marketing strategy for many years but has changed with the advent of technology.

“Back in the 1890s London newspapers provided ‘content’ to gain interest and a following. It was called ‘penny dreadfuls’ and consisted of including a chapter of an ongoing, fast-paced mystery in each edition. The difference now is that we can theoretically target much more specific audiences with very specific content of interest.”

Content such as websites. Does your website have original copy describing your products? Does your website utilise case studies of customers enjoying and endorsing your product? On the marketing side – do you employ good SEO practice? Do you actively promote your website and integrate the content into your overall marketing strategy?

Content such as video. To produce video these days is very easy, sometimes too easy! Are you producing, or accessing good, original video content? Have you asked your customers if they have video – cruising in their new yacht for example? Is this video being used across platforms such as websites, YouTube, Facebook, at your place of business, at boat shows?

Content such as podcasts. People with headphones plugged in are everywhere. Is your product one that could benefit from a podcast? I just participated in one for Deckee.com.au where they interviewed me about all things marketing and have received comments from people across the world. Market these podcasts. Add as downloads/links on your website. Send them to websites such as Deckee.

Remember the warning when I mentioned video. Some content is very easy to produce but has no value. Just because you own a drone or have a flash smartphone does not mean your video is good content.

The real benefit of content marketing, where you will see real results, is to produce valuable content. Content that your customers, or potential customers, will want to read, watch, listen to, absorb and look forward to the next instalment.

Not sure what this valuable content is? Why don’t you ask them?

About the author

Andrew Hawkins can be contacted via 
andrew@mainsheetmedia.com, tel 0422 953 928. 
www.mainsheetmedia.com

This article was first published in the August-September 2017 issue of Marine Business magazine.

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