In 1996 Bill Gates wrote an essay theorising that good-quality content was where money was to be made online. His view of the online world to be was that the internet would become a “marketplace of content”. Unsurprisingly, that proved correct.
The top earning websites are those dedicated to providing rich content – Yahoo, Tripadvisor, Reuters, MSN/Live – or those which help users find rich content – Google, Amazon.
But Mr Gates also said no company was too small to become involved in the content marketplace. As the online world has grown, even businesses whose core product is something other than information have realised that content is an invaluable way to attract the interest of potential customers.
Social media activity, for example, translates into “Likes” on Facebook and is shared to peoples’ other networks – essentially word of mouth in the online world.
We may not have been calling it content marketing for the past 20 years, but the idea of building an online presence and audience through content creation is nothing new.
The rationale is relatively straight-forward; by creating content such as blog posts across various platforms a business will have a louder voice and, therefore, attract more attention from potential customers. What’s more, if businesses can demonstrate their experience and knowledge through online content they have the potential to be seen as leaders in whichever sector they may operate.
On a technical level, the more active a business is in creating content across various platforms, the better it will perform on search engine optimisation.
What’s not so straight-forward is the execution of content marketing.
Returning to Bill Gates, he also wrote that “one of the exciting things about the Internet is that anyone with a PC and a modem can publish whatever content they can create”. This is true, and herein lies the risks for those without content marketing experience.
Before rushing headlong into a content marketing frenzy, consider the following;
- Content is pointless without a strategy
You need to know what outcomes you want to achieve. Developing a fully considered content marketing strategy will set the path for what content to create, which audiences to target and what platforms will best help you achieve that strategy.
Like any marketing initiative, content marketing requires investment. This means both monetary investment, but also time investment. The purpose is to create great content which will engage your audience. That takes time to consider, develop and deliver.
Before entering a “marketplace” any good business person will undertake extensive market research. Just because the content marketplace may not be your business’ core market does not reduce the need for research. Be aware of what other content is available before inadvertently replicating it. If you’re to successfully attract attention content needs to be different, simple and engaging.