Most small businesses struggle with implementing content marketing in Nigeria. The usual reasons given for this include: insufficient budget, manpower, and even time. However, I believe that these reasons are not factors that prevent the implementation of content marketing. Rather, I consider them the results of a misunderstanding of the idea of content marketing; which leads to the subsequent development of inapt activities that do not align with the goals of these businesses.
In order to have a good understanding of what content marketing is, let’s take a moment to define it. Content marketing as defined by Content Marketing Institute is “owning, as opposed to renting media. It’s a marketing process to attract and retain customers by consistently creating and curating content in order to change or enhance a consumer’s behaviour.”
From the definition above, we can see that content marketing is basically having your own collection of media channels. Think of yourself as a publisher or TV station; except that the content produced has to be crafted strategically to both engage your customer and achieve your marketing goals. This also does not mean that every content has to be a sales pitch (a common mistake businesses make); people know when they’re being sold to, and depending on their stage in the buyer’s journey, most people will tune out of your message if they sense you’re trying to sell something. Rather, content produced has to be helpful, valuable and/or interesting to your target audience; so as to gain their trust and attention.
Goals of Content Marketing
To make your content marketing more strategic, you would need to understand what objectives to aim for. Content marketing can help in achieving two major, interdependent goals: brand engagement and demand generation.
Brand engagement, which is a major aspect of brand management, is concerned with the creation of an emotional and/or logical connection with a consumer. The idea is simply giving your target audience a good reason to take time out of their busy schedule to engage with your brand.
Consumers are people, and people will engage with brands the same way they engage with other people. For instance, you wouldn’t normally speak to a stranger standing reclusive in a corner; or enjoy a conversation with someone whose discussions are self-absorbed and of little value. So it is with your brand engagement. You want to offer content to your target consumer that is interesting and/or adds value to their lives. A simple place to start from is creating content that addresses the various questions your customers ask; you could easily get this information from your sales team or customer service unit.
The benefits of brand engagement as a goal of content marketing include the improvement of brand perception, the positioning of your company as a thought leader in your industry, the building of customer loyalty, and the encouragement of brand advocacy.
Demand generation is concerned with the building and nurturing of key prospect and customer relationships for the long term. This involves the creation of touch points throughout the various stages of a buyer’s journey and the engagement of prospects through those touch points. For instance, customers who are seriously considering to buy your products/services and are hence, in the final stages of the buyer’s journey might be easily persuaded with content that offers free trials, estimates & consultation; whereas, someone in the early stages of the buyer journey would be more interested in a blog post, eBook or infographic that helps him understand his current needs and problems.
Demand generation requires a strategic mind-set and a commitment to building long-term customer relationships. This is essential, as a study by Hubspot revealed that leads gotten through this medium are 5 times more likely to become customers than leads gotten from traditional marketing tactics.
Objectives you can aim for include improvement of website SEO and traffic, lead generation, lead nurturing and increase in sales.
Content marketing, if done properly, clearly addresses some of the major challenges currently facing the practice of marketing. Hence, small businesses in Nigeria ought to take it into account as a major part of their overall marketing strategy. In a world where consumers are increasingly setting the terms for how they want to be engaged, this is an aspect of marketing that is likely not going to slow down anytime soon.
This post was originally published on 10/12/16 in Sawubona’s blog