I’d like to tell you what the true purpose of content marketing is.
First, you should understand what content marketing is not:
- A quick win that produces overnight results
- A band-aid for a broken sales process or other business problem
- The least expensive marketing channel
I expect by now, you’re saying to yourself, “wow, Philip, you don’t sound very upbeat on content marketing!”
Actually, I’m very upbeat on content marketing, when it is used effectively. 🙂
Using Content Marketing Effectively
Content marketing is a very effective way to build the confidence of your audience–and add new members to that audience–if you have positioned yourself or your business as a differentiated expert in a narrow market niche. On the other hand, if you have not positioned yourself as a differentiated specialist, it will be difficult to use content marketing effectively.
Allow me to unpack this a bit for you.
First, positioning. As you know from the previous crash course on positioning, the purpose of positioning your business is to become clear on who you serve, what problems you can solve for them, and how you do so different than others doing something similar. As a quick example, my company positioning goes like this:
I help development shops get more qualified leads without hiring a sales person. I use education-based content marketing, marketing automation, and digital outreach to make that happen. I’m also the author of The Positioning Manual for Technical Firms.
That’s a pretty good level of specificity about who I serve, what I do for them, and how I do so differently than other marketers.
Figuring out your positioning is the first step in an effective content marketing program. You do not have to position (or re-position) your entire company, but you do need to develop a positioning that will guide your content marketing effort. Positioning is a force multiplier for your marketing efforts.
A positioning makes a claim of expertise. It says, in effect, “because I have chosen to focus my skill on a narrow range of problems, I have developed considerable expertise in solving those problems.” (Higher rates and more selectivity in which clients you work with are two benefits that flow from that kind of expertise.) Your marketing is how you back up that claim of expertise.
People wonder a lot about what kind of marketing is best for their business. Having a clear positioning will help you answer that thorny question. Instead of the question being, “which marketing channel is most effective, or which is the most popular/trendy at the moment?”, the question becomes “which form of marketing will do the best job of demonstrating my company’s expertise?”.
That’s a much easier question to answer!
It happens that content marketing, specifically content marketing that is designed to educate your prospects, is an incredibly effective way to demonstrate that you have the expertise your positioning says you do. And that’s why, for technical firms like programming consultancies, web development shops, and even SaaS firms, education-based content marketing is a fantastic marketing tool.
That is the true purpose of content marketing, to demonstrate your expertise in a way that convinces your prospects and helps them believe the claim of expertise your positioning makes.