The business case for content marketing

There are 1001 ways to market your business and you can spend your time and money on many different marketing methods. So why should you consider content marketing?

As a follow up from a previous article what is content marketing?, where I discuss several definitions of content marketing, I’d like to transition into the business case for content marketing.

By the end of this article you will understand more clearly what content marketing can do for you and your business.

This will be particularly useful to you if you have any of the following questions:

  1. How will my business benefit from content marketing?
  2. What should I expect from content marketing?
  3. Why should I bother getting to grips with content marketing?

Understanding how Google works

Before we get into the nitty gritty of the business case for content marketing it’s a good idea to just add a little context about what Google’s job is in this whole content marketing process.

Simply put, it’s Google’s job to return the most accurate, relevant and helpful results with reference to the search term you have typed into the search bar.

It’s also Google’s job to put these results into some sort of priority. This is based on multiple factors, which are mostly based on popularity. You could assume that if a webpage is visited more often and people spend more time on it, then it should be ranked higher than a similar webpage that is less popular. It’s worth noting that there are 100s of factors that impact search results position.

What are people doing on Google these days? People mainly use Google to find answers to questions and solutions to problems.

Google is the place that most people go to find everything and therefore it plays a huge role in content marketing.

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What is content?

Throughout this article I mention ‘content’ a lot. Just so you understand what I mean by this, content can be created in many different forms. Here are the most popular types of content:

  • Blog posts
  • Webinars
  • eBooks and guides
  • Podcasts
  • Videos

In most cases when I mention ‘content’ I’m referring to an owned rich source of content, which is typically a blog, a video channel and/or a podcast channel.

Without further ado, I’d like to present to you the business case for content marketing.

The business case for content marketing

There are 12 main aspects to consider for the business case for content marketing. Please use the links below as a ‘contents list’ to jump straight to a relevant place on the page.

  1. The Zero Moment of Truth
  2. Being found online and Search Engine Optimisation
  3. Two-way conversation and engaging with your audience
  4. Reverse the risk with content marketing
  5. Reduce your sales cycle through pre-qualifying your customers
  6. Get more referrals
  7. Create more awareness of your business
  8. Building marketing assets for your business
  9. Transparent tracking and measuring
  10. Thought Leadership
  11. The importance of social sharing
  12. Differentiate your business through content marketing

1 – The Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT)

ZMOT is perhaps the biggest reason to consider content marketing for your business.

If you’re not familiar with ZMOT and the implication it is having on your business, then click here to read an introduction to ZMOT in a new tab.

It used to be that you knew when someone was interested in your product or service quite early on in the buying decision process. The potential customer would pick up the phone, send you and email or walk into your shop. That first contact is called a moment of truth.

What’s happening now is that most people are making 70% of their buying decision online before they make that first contact with your business.

They are making this important decision whilst researching products and services and being influenced by what their friends and family are sharing online.

Here’s a summary of the main ZMOT points to consider as part of the business case for content marketing:

  • 70% the buying decision is made online before people contact your business for the first time – therefore, if you cannot be found online, you won’t be found, and therefore less likely to get customers
  • Your potential customers are far more educated than they ever have been, because they can find out everything online – this means that your customers know a lot more about your products and services than they used to, thus they are more savvy and can make informed buying decisions
  • Google is the 0800 of the new age; the Internet is the first stop for answers to questions and solutions to problems – who is answering the questions and solving the problems when your potential customers are searching online? If it’s not you, then how do you expect people to find out about you?
  • People are consuming more content now than they ever have – you need to have content that’s available for your potential customers
  • People want to find what they are looking for quickly and easily.

In conclusion, if you don’t have the content that your potential customers need when they are browsing, then you don’t exist to those people in ZMOT space. Essentially you are losing customers that you never even knew you had.

This means that you have to be creating content that people are looking for and will find useful when they are in this ‘non-buying mode’.

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2 – Being found online and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

You’ve likely heard that in order to be found in online search results pages you need to be creating fresh, unique and helpful content, and that’s correct, you do.

Some of the most common questions I get are “why can’t I find my website on the 1st page of Google?” and “how can I get my website onto the 1st page on Google?”

If you are creating a rich source of content on your website – i.e. blogs, podcasts or video – this in turn will contribute to your website being more likely to be found in search engine results pages.

Being found online has to be part of the business case for content marketing. It all works towards having a customer centric website that your audience enjoy spending time on, which in turn has a hugely positive impact upon your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

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3 – Two-way conversation and engaging with your audience

It’s really important to understand that your audience are not in buying mode most of the time. So why do we constantly see businesses pushing sales messages to their audience? It’s really not the right thing to do. People are frankly squandering a fantastic opportunity to communicate with their audience.

People don’t want to see your sales messages, they’d much rather be entertained or educated. Who’s going to engage with and share a sales message online?? No one is.

Through creating a rich source of content that is focussed on your audience’s problems, questions and aspirations you have the ability and the opportunity to open up the channel for conversation with your audience. You will not only make it convenient, but also give your audience a good clear reason to get in touch with you and create a dialogue and discussion.

Through embracing content marketing you will stop selling and start connecting through your content.

Give your audience content that they want to spend time with and engage with.

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4 – Reverse the risk with content marketing

The more information you can provide to your prospective customer, the less likely they are to perceive the purchase as risky. You can use your content to educate your prospects about your products and services and help them to make an informed buying decision, which I’ve already highlighted with the Zero Moment of Truth.

Through embracing content marketing and transparent selling you can develop your relationship and create trust with your audience.

One way you can do this by simply making sure that all your potential customers big questions are answered up front on your website.

Those that embrace transparent selling and content marketing will be the ones that will build the strongest relationships and win with their content.

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5 – Reduce your sales cycle through pre-qualifying your customers

By making sure all the content your potential customers need to make a buying decision is available to them at the time when they need it, you can reduce your sales cycle and pre-qualify your customers.

As business owners we want the best quality customers. We want customers that really understand what we do and how we do it.

Through content marketing and transparent you may get less enquiries when people will read your content and realise that what you offer isn’t for them. However, there will be people that read your content and realise that you are perfect for them. When these people make first contact with you after reading your content they will have a good understanding of what it is you offer and be more ready to buy.

Naturally through transparent selling you will save a lot of time. You won’t have to waste your time with enquiries that won’t lead anywhere, and when people do make an enquiry they will have pretty much made up their mind who they are going to spend their money with.

Content marketing makes your sales process easier for both you and your potential customers.

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6 – Get more referrals

This is perhaps one of the most overlooked areas of content marketing.

Imagine that you and I are in the same networking group, and as part of our responsibilities we actively look out for opportunities to refer business to each other.

This is a basic aspect of business networking. However, in most cases it can be difficult to make a really good introduction, especially if the person I’m attempting to introduce you to has never heard of you.

Now, imagine if you had some great content on your website – a blog or perhaps a few videos. Also imagine that you are present on social media channels and you share your content actively.

It’s significantly easier for me to make introductions to my network through sharing your content. Also, I’m less likely to forget about you because your content is readily available to me.

There are many people that I’d love to refer more often.

Everything would be so much easier if they had some content that I could share.

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7 – Create more awareness of your business

Two questions I often get asked are “how can I create more awareness of my business?” and “what can I do so more people can find out about my business?”

By now you probably appreciate that content marketing can significantly increase awareness. Not only that, through creating customer centric content people can understand better what your business is all about.

A short example:

Imagine if you had a blog, a podcast or a video channel, and you published helpful customer centric content on these platforms consistently over a period of time. Not only would have something new to say periodically, but you would be able to share this with your network without being dry, boring and repetitive.

Your network would be reminded of you more often, and they would be able to share your content with their network, thus increasing awareness of your content, your business and your brand.

Content marketing can create more awareness of your brand.

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8 – Building marketing assets for your business

What’s the difference between content marketing and traditional marketing and advertising?

Let’s compare the two and see which one you would prefer to put your time and budget into.

Traditional advertising – At a basic level this is how it works. You take some of your marketing budget and spend it on advertising, which could be displayed either in print or on a digital platform. Whether it works or not, when you stop paying the money your advertising comes to an end.

Content marketing programme – Alternatively, say you put some of your marketing budget into creating a series of helpful evergreen blog articles (evergreen meaning that the content does not go out of date). You then publish them on your owned platform (ideally your website). Your audience will find them when browsing your website, or when you share them on social, or perhaps someone in your audience will share your content with their network. Either way, now you have something useful that will be available for you to use as required forever. Over time, your content will create more value because you can use it today, next week, next month and next year.

Content marketing builds marketing assets for your business; advertising is an expense in comparison.

Would you rather have owned marketing assets or rely on the expense paid traditional advertising?

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9 – Transparent tracking and measuring

“I know half my advertising works and half doesn’t…I just don’t know which is which” – Unknown

Most content efforts these days utilise digital platforms, this means you can track pretty much everything using the correct applications.

No more guessing. In fact, with all the metrics available to us the challenge is more likely to be determining which metrics are the most valuable to measure.

Everything from likes, follows and shares, to page views on your website, to people becoming customers through your content.

What this means for you as the business owner is that you have a better opportunity to understand exactly what’s working and what’s not.

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10 – Thought Leadership

Through creating content consistently over time you can become what’s known as a thought leader in your space – i.e. an authority in your industry for what you do. The go-to expert for your audience.

You can become the trusted source of knowledge and information for what it is you do and thus command the attention of your potential customers.

When you get to level of thought leadership it will be very difficult for your competition to catch up with you and command your audience.

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11 – The importance of social sharing

“Research from eMarketer reports that 83 percent of brand marketers view social sharing as the primary benefit of social media because 70 percent of consumers say they are more likely to make a purchase based on a friend’s social media updates” – Excerpt from The Content Code page 18, by Mark W. Schaefer.

We know that purchasing decisions are heavily influenced by what people’s friends and contacts share on social media.

But that’s not the end of the story. Firstly it’s important to understand what kind of content people share on social, and secondly why they share content.

People don’t share sales messages on social media do they? No, they don’t.

If you aren’t creating content for your audience then there will be nothing for them to engage with, never mind share.

In fact, the chances are that they will share someone else’s content instead, perhaps your competition.

Now that we know how important social sharing is we have to think about what kind of content our audience is likely to share, and then create that kind of content.

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12 – Differentiate your business through content marketing

Everyone I meet is looking for a way to stand out from the crowd, a way to be different than everyone else.

There are a few examples throughout this article that back up this point of differentiation, for example:

  • Thought leadership, point 9, is a great example of differentiating through your content
  • Social sharing and getting more referrals, points 11 & 6, are ways to command more business through your content marketing
  • Being found in search through your content, point 2, is another clear differentiator

I hope that you can now see that you can truly differentiate from your competition through embracing content marketing and personalising and humanising your marketing.

That’s if you create content that’s not the same as everyone else, of course. ;o)

Differentiate through building a loyal audience

On another note, through creating helpful and customer centric content you will start to build a core audience and community around your content. What this means is that instead of simply being a choice in the marketing place, you will become the choice. You now have the ability to build a loyal audience that love what you do. This is perhaps the biggest differentiator for any business.

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Are you ready for content marketing?

As mentioned, there is more content available to people now more than ever. Our potential customers are are far more educated and have access to almost all the information they need to help them make a smart buying decision. We also know that people spend very little time in buying mode.

We know that most consumers are deciding who they are going to buy from on their own using the content they find on the Internet, and if they can’t find your content, then you are less likely to get the sale.

Your competition may not yet be up on content marketing, but I can assure you that they won’t be far behind.

If you wait, and your competition get in before you, you will find it difficult to catch up. The risk is that your competition steal your audience’s attention through their content, build trust and eventually you will lose potential customers.

On the flip side, you have before you an incredible opportunity to communicate with your audience in a way that they will appreciate and find valuable.

Marketing certainly is getting harder, and you can start making things easier for you and your potential customers through content marketing.

Now is the time to embrace content marketing.

Don’t forget to be awesome!


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About Chris Marr

Chris is the leading voice of the growing Content Marketing movement in the UK. His pioneering work has helped countless organisations grow through content marketing. His drive comes from a desire to help people break free from the world of interruption marketing.