Confused by content marketing? It’s just great storytelling

Andrea Stevens says developing content (aka “stories”) is a great way for businesses to build connection, familiarity, trust, and empathy with your target audiences.

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Andrea Stevens says developing content (aka “stories”) is a great way for businesses to build connection, familiarity, trust, and empathy with your target audiences.

OPINION: Content marketing is nothing new. The concept has been around for a while, but the words are often talked about as a complex marketing strategy. The truth is, this is good old-fashioned storytelling, with one key difference.

You must provide value.

It’s a matter of connection

Good storytelling is about connection. It engages you from start to finish. Build your interest with each paragraph and create value – whether it helps, inspires or entertains you.

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For businesses, developing content (aka “stories”) is a great way to build connection, familiarity, trust, and empathy with your target audiences. This allows you to tell deeper, more meaningful stories that convey your brand ethos and the value you have to offer your customers or stakeholders. This drives future sales and engagement.

Yes, it’s a way to advertise what you do. But it’s not a hard sell. And unlike traditional paid media, there are no space limitations or short deadlines.

Many stories can be persistent and, when published on your blog or third-party media, attract website visitors for years. One of my blog posts, Content Marketing Strategy Goals: A Step-by-Step Guide, has brought in a stream of new visitors month after month for the past three years, giving me a return on incredible investment.

What is value?

Content marketing works on the simple truth that people are more likely to link with your business if they like you, trust you, and know something about you. In other words, as long as the content you create offers value.

If you have a great product or service, you can create content about it. Stories that engage and inform, fill a need, solve a problem or pique curiosity. It’s a chance to not only tell, but also show your audience how you can really help them.

Whether it’s thought leadership, how-to’s, an innovative project story, make sure you tell your story well and your audience will pre-qualify when they love what you do.

When thinking about creating content, ask yourself if this content (article, blog, social media post, case study, guide or white paper) will be of value to someone? Is it useful and relevant? Will it help them to like and/or trust me?

Authenticity is everything

Good storytelling is like you. It’s authentic. What you write and how you write it should be the same as telling your story to someone face-to-face.

So be yourself and write like you speak. Or be the voice of your brand.

Share your content

Good marketing content can be shared on any platform or through any channel that reaches your target audience. The key is to tailor your content to the audience, platform, and channel you’re using. Social media posts are typically shorter and more impactful than a blog, and an EDM (electronic direct mail) article is more succinct than a print article on thought leadership.

There are now so many channels available to businesses, whether paid, earned, shared or owned, that professional guidance can be invaluable in reducing complexity and ensuring the right content is on the right channel with the right message. .

Perseverance pays

Content marketing works best in the long run. So you need to keep doing it – and regularly. This is not a retail ad where you can see the return next week in checkout. It’s an investment in building connections and influencing how your business is perceived, over time.

And, as with all marketing, measure, review, and adjust your approach as you go. Listen to your customers and stakeholders. Let their interests, needs, and feedback guide your content, and you will be rewarded.

Andrea Stevens is the Director of Copywriting Agency Folio and Folio Digital, working with B2B and professional services brands to publish brand building content.