In Washington Irving’s classic tale Rip Van Winkle, a young man leaves his home along the Hudson River for a sojourn into the Catskill Mountains where he encounters a group of strange, bearded men. As the story goes, Rip proceeds to drink their liquor, and soon falls into a deep slumber.
When Rip finally wakes up, the world around him seems like a very different place. He is startled to learn that he too has grown a long beard. The stock of his gun has rotted away, and his dog has run off. This is because Rip did not sleep for just one night—he was out cold for 20 years. Confusion mounts as Rip walks into town and discovers how everything around him has changed.
Does this sensation seem familiar? Are you feeling like a groggy Rip Van Winkle every time you hear the term “content marketing?” Are you wondering about this strange new world of infographics, podcasts and blog posts and trying desperately to figure out what happened to the world of direct mail and print advertising? You are not alone.
Content marketing has revolutionized the marketing landscape, leaving many in its wake unsure of how to proceed in a market that has changed so much over the past several years.
But if it feels like you have just woken from a 20-year slumber, don’t despair; one of the best parts of Rip Van Winkle occurs after Rip returns to the village. He is reunited with his family and is welcomed back into society once again. In other words, once you learn the basics of content marketing, you’ll be caught up in no time—and you’ll be a part of the conversation, too.
That’s because content marketing is all about communication. The point is to build relationships with your customers and key stakeholders online, and it starts with the creative content that your organization puts out.
In a nutshell, content marketing is storytelling. It’s about building trust and brand loyalty by informing people on why your product or service will improve their lives, or by explaining exactly what your company does. And as it turns out, people are hungry for text marketing approaches. In fact, 80 percent of business executives prefer to read articles rather than advertisements when it comes to getting new company information.
And executives aren’t the only ones who are paying attention to content marketing. Consumers are, as well. Here are some important statistics related to consumer interest in content marketing:
- 90 percent of consumers claim that they benefit from custom content.
- 73 percent of consumers would rather learn about a company by reading articles than looking at an advertisement.
It works like this: content marketing starts chatter amongst consumers both on and offline, whereas print advertising does not. Think about the last time you struck up a conversation based around an ad that you saw that wasn’t either funny or annoying.
But that recent blog post about gluten free chocolate chip cookies? Or that cool infographic that informed you that each year enough office products are thrown away to construct a twelve foot wall from New York to California? This type of content gets people thinking and posting on social media. It makes them think of what life is like for teachers and students without smartphones in the classroom. And if you are in the food industry, for example, that infographic will get people thinking about how they can treat their body as well as they treat their car. This type of content sticks with a reader after they walk away. They retain it.
So, now that you are awake and caught up to speed, you are probably wondering about specific ways that you can use content marketing to build readership on your site. Make sure you check back in for part two, which will take a look at why social media is a great tool for not only starting conversation on your site, but making sure that it continues on a daily basis.