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What is Content Marketing? (And Why Does My Business Need It?)

Advertising is everywhere, and it has gotten so intrusive that consumers are using ad blockers on their phones and computers to cut through the noise.

Unlike banner ads on websites, pop-ups, and even radio and television commercials, content marketing is not direct advertising — but it is a very effective way to cut through the clutter of traditional advertising to get a message through to customers.

Content marketing uses blog entries, articles, photos, videos, infographics, podcasts and even events to provide useful and interesting information to consumers.

This content can be used across a variety of platforms, from social media accounts and websites to local newspapers and television. (If you’ve ever seen a “sponsored article” on washingtonpost.com, that’s what we’re talking about.)

In other words, content marketing is a tool that helps make your business informative, trusted and valuable to your target audience. 

People like doing business with people who are familiar and trustworthy — content marketing can help immensely. Marketing guru Neil Patel put it this way: 

              "Content marketing works because you’re not just attracting visitors to your site and leaving them alone to hopefully buy something. Instead, you’re sending a clear message that you are attuned to their needs and ready to help solve their problems."

The content your business produces should make your audiences feel as though they are reading a news article or great how-to information that serves a purpose or teaches them something.

The fact that they are reading such helpful information from your business helps cement your business in their minds as the one they should be paying attention to, following, patronizing and even recommending to their friends.

Here are a few examples:

  • A plumber publishes a blog post in the winter on their website with tips on how to keep your home’s pipes from freezing. It also goes out through an email newsletter, social media  and even lands him an interview on the local television news about it. (Yes, sometimes content marketing and public relations intersect.) This all makes the plumber a trusted source of good, useful and practical information – all positive energy and good for the business.
  • Or, a Realtor publishes blog entries, social media posts and even creates short videos about things like whether people should rent or buy a home with guidance on how to make the decision, how to downsize and what to look for at an open house (aside from the number of closets).
  • Or, an insurance broker writes true, cautionary stories about situations his clients have found themselves in and provides solutions should you find yourself in a similar predicament.

In fact, stories are another way to set yourself apart with content marketing. An American Association of Advertising Agencies study on ad formats determined this: "For the most part, ads that tell stories and engage and involve consumers create stronger emotional relevance than product-centric ads." Most consumers love to know who they’re doing business with, and why you do what you do. (Read more about how to tell a compelling business story in another Canoe Media blog post here.)

If you’re not sure where to begin, you’re not alone—in fact, to share a little bit with you about Canoe Media Services, we started our business for that very reason. As former journalists, we were running into scores of businesses that could be more successful with some good content marketing and social media strategies. So, we decided to start our own company to help them.

Content marketing is also a proven strategy. According to the Content Marketing Institute, “Content marketing isn’t the future…it’s the present.” It needs to be an integral part of every company’s marketing strategy, not separate from it. 

Not sure where to start, what to write about, what video to create? If you're feeling overwhelmed, contact us and we'll create a content marketing path for you.