Whether it’s behind-the-scenes videos of your showroom, candid interviews with your retail staff, or product merchandising guides, gift and home businesses create a ton of content to share their brand story and products.
Yet, clients frequently tell us they don’t have a strategy in place to best promote all this great content. Let’s change that.
Content marketing is that strategy of creating and sharing content (like relevant articles, videos, blogs, photos and more), to educate and entertain your audience and create interest in your product or brand.
Over the last 15 years, it has shifted from an emerging trend to a dominant way to communicate with customers.
In fact, 73 percent of B2B marketers and 70 percent of B2C marketers use content marketing as part of their overall marketing strategy, with 69 percent of all companies planning to increase their content marketing budgets in 2023.
Non-salesy by nature, content marketing helps you build and maintain trust, remain top of mind, and guide your customers’ buying decisions in a more genuine and accessible way than traditional advertising. To help you get started, here are four important content marketing goals and strategic recommendations.
Use content to build an emotional connection
In retail, customers might prefer one company over another due to product selection, inventory availability, pricing, promotions and customer service – all of which are important. But, there’s a reason why Coca-Cola outsells Pepsi, even when Pepsi beats Coke in blind taste tests: marketing and brand loyalty.
The good news is that with content marketing, you can achieve this Coke effect without their $4 billion marketing budget. By connecting with your audience through stories told in thoughtful ways, you’ll build an emotional connection, admiration and trust.
Keep consumers informed
In the pre-content era of marketing, businesses spent thousands of dollars running newspaper and TV advertisements. To replace those expensive print and TV ads, content marketing gives you the ability to drive product awareness by sharing content directly with your audience – at a mere fraction of the cost.
By creating and sharing helpful content on your own terms, you become a publisher, keeping your customers informed about your business benefits, product availability, and other factors influencing brand loyalty.
Plus, no business is immune to challenges, like inventory shortages, supply chain issues or product recalls. It’s better to be proactive instead of reactive – share the information with customers directly before they have the chance to be frustrated.
Establish ‘expert’ reputations
Until recently, many celebrity chefs made very little money from TV appearances. They instead monetized the exposure of being presented as culinary ‘experts’ to promote their restaurants, cookbooks and branded packaged foods and accessories.
You have the same opportunity via content marketing by creating how-to blogs, photo guides, video tutorials and more. You can collaborate with influencers, customers or brands via sponsored content.
Whether it’s style tips or home décor guides, when these expert solutions involve your products, you score an extra win by making those items more popular with customers.
Build a Content Marketing Strategy
Like any business objective, achieving these content marketing wins requires an effective strategy.
This strategy must consider important questions. Who is your target audience? What distinguishes your brand from everyone else? What content formats and channels should be your focus?
For instance, if a store appeals to women ages 55 and up, they might consider limiting its presence on Facebook. While it remains one of the most widely used social media platforms, only 3.8 percent of their audience is women in that age bracket (its largest user groups are men with a majority age range of 25-34.)
Businesses should also consider the tone of graphics and copy. One retailer’s customers might appreciate marketing copy and graphics for being elegant only for another’s audience to find the same messaging to be pretentious.
To strike the right balance and evolve your strategy with the changing tastes and perspectives of your audience, you must incorporate testing into your content marketing process. Testing not only helps to ensure that content leads to conversions and influences buying decisions, it also prevents customer attrition via unsubscribes or unfollows.
The strategies and execution of content marketing plans will vary for each business.
There is almost never a “magic bullet” advertisement, email or social media post that solely convinces someone to make a purchase. The choice to buy is the sum of multiple tipping points – messages received across a variety of channels.
Through content marketing, businesses gain the power to become “top of mind” for their customers, a distinction that will make them a must-see option whenever a buying decision is needed.