Content Marketing Must Be Informative to Work

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Gone are the days of relying on paid advertisements alone to attract new customers. Today, more businesses act as their own media company and use content marketing to reach new audiences, says Jim Houck, president and owner of The Houck Agency in Youngstown.

“In these days, any company is able to be its own media company,” he says. “They have a website, they have social media tools and they can produce content about things they want to say, messages they want to talk about, products they want to promote then distribute it and publish it in their own way.”

According to HubSpot’s 2018 Marketing Statistics report, organic content marketing gets three times more leads than paid search advertising.

“Content marketing is creating content that’s useful, informative, educational and perhaps even entertaining,” Houck says. “It’s the opposite of advertising.”

The concept of content marketing has always existed, says Jim Komara, digital media director for Palo Creative in Boardman, but the way consumers receive the content has changed. Rather than traditional advertising methods, content marketing allows customers to find information and “feel like they are finding it and discovering it all for themselves, whether you planted the information there for them or not,” he says.

In the past, a business could use a long, informative ad to educate its consumers by taking out a full-page magazine placement and writing an article. Now, businesses can use their website, emails and social media platforms for content in a way that is not interruptive to consumers.

The difference between content marketing and an advertisement is that an advertisement could be a “TV commercial or radio ad where the advertiser is getting your attention during your time. You’re trying to watch a show or listen to the radio and the advertiser interrupts you with their ad, where content marketing is the opposite,” Komara says. “That’s where the consumer is looking for answers and services and they initiate the first contact by doing a search and coming across your content instead of you throwing the offer and the price in their face.”

The goal of content marketing is to lead the consumer to purchase a product or service. It typically costs less than a paid ad.

“It’s a discovery process and they get led down the process of the buyer’s journey,” Komara says. “They get educated about the product then they learn about who provides those services or product. Then they learn about you and why they should select you.”

Pictured: Jim Komara, digital media director for Palo Creative.

HubSpot reports 96% of business-to-business buyers want content with more input from industry thought leaders. New content includes blogs, photos, videos, podcasts and updating a webpage with links to any news articles relevant to customers or news reports in which the company has been quoted or featured.

Advantage Video Production in Youngstown has a different approach to the type of content it can create since it was first a video company that evolved into a full-service marketing firm, says owner Chris Jaskiewicz, who purchased the company in April 2017.

“One of the things we realized out of the gate is we get to learn so much about the company to create a good video,” Jaskiewicz says. “We’re learning all this stuff. So we thought, ‘Why don’t we share it to other outlets and do marketing and advertising for them?’ ”

Among the content Advantage Video can produce are training videos, animations, cartoons, motion graphics, time lapse and anything with a green screen.

“A time lapse is a great way to show a story,” says Kris Jaskiewicz, director of marketing for Advantage Video. Animations are also a great tool because, “You throw some words and information in there and do it in a light, comical way, so that it’s not a serious or typical video you may scroll past online. The colors you use catch people’s attention,” she says.

One of Advantage Video’s ongoing projects is helping to create video content for Mill Creek MetroParks by walking the trails while using a camera stabilizer. “People can sit at their home or while they’re on the treadmill. They can watch and it looks like they’re walking through the trails,” Chris Jaskiewicz says. “We’re doing a series of trails, so you can pick the trail and walk it.”

When Advantage Video first meets with a client, it’s a lot of brainstorming of ideas and research to get to know the company and its customers better.

“Our goal is to get in the mind of the person who is trying to buy that product or service,” Jaskiewicz says. “What would they think? How would they react or respond to it and create content that appeals to them.”

Once you create a content marketing strategy, it’s important to be consistent with posting new content so that you build trust with your consumer, Jaskiewicz says.

“When you’re putting out content, you’re going to let people see who you are and like you before they ever get to meet you,” he says. “Make sure what you’re putting out there is generating a strong feeling of trust.”

Marketing firms can help create content for your business if you don’t have the time to do it, or don’t have the funds to hire a full-time marketing employee. The Houck Agency, for example, can write content, produce videos or offer ideas for content topics.

An easy content idea for businesses looking to handle content marketing themselves is to recycle common questions consumers might ask about their business or industry.

“Start with a blog, write out different ways to answer those questions and then get creative and see if you can turn that blog into something else, something that’s interactive,” Houck suggests. “Maybe there’s a survey you can create or you can put the content into a form of a quiz. You can get a lot of clicks and shares when you do something interesting.”

HubSpot reports 55% of marketers say blog content creation is their top inbound marketing priority and 17% of marketers plan to add podcasting to their marketing efforts in the next 12 months.

Creating content directly impacts search engine optimization as well.

“Every time you produce a blog, you are adding another indexed page on Google and on the other search engines,” Houck says. “The more indexed pages you have that lead to relative, credible content on your website that people are actually visiting, you are going to improve organic search results.”

When posting new content online, Houck suggests using keywords in a blog or to describe video or audio content so that it will get more views.

“If you want to be found online, people are typing in keywords that relate to your business, your product or your service,” he says. “The more indexed pages that are credible and good, the better your chances are to generate that traffic.”

A common mistake Houck sees is a business making its content marketing too promotional.

“It’s not the place for hard sells,” he says. “It’s not what content marketing is meant to be and it’s not going to be effective that way.”

If you’re making the effort in content marketing, it’s important to have marketing automation software, such as Google Analytics, that can track how your content is performing.

“People will interact with your properties in different ways and in different times. So you may have five touch points before they make a decision to purchase,” Palo’s Komara says. “If you have your tracking and reporting set up from the beginning to help track those goals or track progress towards those goals, then three to six months or a year down the road, you’ll see those results. You can track that whole history and prove to yourself that your marketing worked.”

Pictured: Jim Houck, president and owner of The Houck Agency.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.