Why Content Marketing Should Be the Foundation of Your Marketing Strategy

Not a day goes by that I don’t talk to a startup entrepreneur who wants to discuss marketing and how to get results fast. So, let’s get that out of the way: Marketing takes time.

There are some tactics you can use to generate a relatively short-term return on investment (ROI), but getting real, lasting results takes time. Simply put, anything you achieve in the short term will go down as fast as it went up. You want to play the long game. This is true even if you are tempted to try things that are less organic but may look good on the surface, like buying likes or followers. Do not do that.

Instead, here are five reasons why you should start generating content for your own business blog as soon as possible:

Search engine optimization (SEO) is very important

I know social media is all the rage these days and no one talks about research anymore, but they’re wrong not to. A quick look at the numbers will show you that search drives as much traffic as social media, at least for now.

Once you are convinced of the importance of research, the question now is how to take advantage of it. I’m obviously oversimplifying here, but the more inbound links to your site, the better. How do you get people to relate to you? Well, some SEO experts would tell you to buy links. I say listen to Google and produce good content that people want to talk about and that they want to link to.

Get social on social media

Let’s break down what social media means. The “media” part is obvious, but what about the “social” part? Do you interact with people the way you do offline, or do you use Twitter as a glorified RSS feed or sales platform?

I once heard a speech from the guy who invented the “Like” button on Facebook. He explained that he wanted to give people the opportunity to express their appreciation for someone else’s content. What did it do? We ruined it begging for likes.

What would you say instead of asking me to follow you, to give me a reason to click on “Like” or “Follow”? What’s the best reason for someone to do it? Fill your feed with quality content, yours or someone else’s, and that’s how you grow your social media count.

Public relations is not the same as content marketing

Let’s get one thing straight: when you or someone on your team writes an industry blog post, it’s called content marketing. When a journalist writes about the company, it’s called public relations (PR).

So why does content help PR? When you introduce a journalist, the first thing he or she will do is Google your name or company name. When there is no internet footprint, that raises a red flag.

However, when he or she encounters all of your content, all of a sudden you are now a colleague, not just a company featuring that reporter. Just as he or she produces content, you produce content.

Content changes the whole dynamic between you and journalists.

Your user acquisition can be much smoother

Whether you’re serving ads or acquiring users in some other way, content makes the whole process so much easier.

It’s quite simple. If I come across an ad for a company I’ve never heard of, I might click, maybe not, but even if I do, it’s a very cold click, and converting will be quite a challenge.

If, however, I see this ad and think, “Oh, I know this company. I read their blog, listen to their podcast, or follow them on Twitter,” the odds of getting engaged are considerably higher. Simply put, content elevates your brand.

Developing business with a stranger is not as fun as with someone who trusts you

Finally, last but not least, content marketing helps in business development. Imagine you’re going out to dinner with a potential client and the person is sitting across from you with a look on their face that says, “What are you selling this time?”

Now contrast that with the expression on his face that says, “I love your content. You clearly know your stuff and I want to work with professionals. So how do we get started?”

This is the difference between building a cold business and building a hot business. It’s the difference between a company that produces quality content and a company that only focuses on promoting itself.

So the bottom line, in case it’s not clear? Stop reading this and start producing your own content.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.