How to Get Started with Content Marketing

by M. Sharon Baker on November 14, 2011

Selling has changed. Many prospective customers are looking for your help, but before they contact you or come into your store, they visit your website. Are these prospective customers going to find the information that they want and need online?

If you’re still relying on a brochure-style website — one that provides only basic information — you’re overdue for an update. Brochure-sites no longer cut it. Customers want to know who you are, how you got there, how you can help them, and whether they can trust you. How do you demonstrate all that on your website? With content.

Developing content to attract, acquire, engage, and retain customers is called content marketing or inbound marketing. Businesses like HubSpot, organizations like the Content Marketing Institute, and marketing expert sites like MarketingProfs are singing its praises, because it recognizes that consumers are increasingly turning to the internet for information and solutions to their problems.

Developing content requires thought, but it isn’t difficult. Here’s how to get started:

Define what makes you special. Figure out what you do better or differently than your competitors — and make sure that message is clear on your website.

Anticipate questions. When people search online, they’re usually looking to solve a problem and perhaps for a product or service that can help them. Think about the questions your target customer may ask. You can do this either by asking your best customers (e.g., have them fill out a survey) or by visiting your competitors’ websites to see what questions they address.

Provide answers. After you anticipate your target customers’ questions, develop content that addresses their questions and demonstrates your expertise. You could offer a case study that highlights how you helped a customer or a company backgrounder with team bios that tell your company’s story and provide insight into its culture. You might also start a blog as a way to engage customers in an ongoing conversation. Posting new information will help you get found faster, too: Google just announced it will soon give higher ranking to sites with fresh content, a change that will impact 35 percent of all searches.

Have you started doing content marketing on your website? What type of content connects with your customers? Share your insights in the Comments field below.