In 1900 two brothers, André and Édouard, started a magazine. Their tire business, which they’d started about 10 years before, was not growing fast enough for their liking — one reason being that there weren’t enough cars around for tires to be in demand.
So they compiled a list of vacation hot spots, including resorts and restaurants, put it in their magazine and distributed it across the country. The magazine picked up in popularity, generating a desire within readers to visit these vacation destinations — and in turn, increasing road travel and demand for tires.
A little more than 100 years later, their company, Michelin, is one of the largest tire manufacturers in the world, and their magazine, The Michelin Guide, can make or break a restaurant.
That’s the power of content marketing.
Of course, content marketing has changed over the last century. We now have the internet, and everything happens online. There are new tools and tactics to distribute and promote your content. But the benefits remain the same. Here are seven ways content marketing helps your business:
1. It educates
In the first stage of the customer life cycle, they don’t know they have a problem. Hence, they don’t know that they need your solution.
For example, in Michelin’s case, customers didn’t know these great locations existed and were only a short drive away. By educating people, Michelin showed them they needed a solution: more cars and more tires.
People may not know they need your product or service. Create content that educates, teach them the benefits of your product and generate a demand for it.
2. It builds trust
Think back to the door-to-door salesmen who used to push products on people. Chances are you never wanted to speak to them, and if you were kind enough to listen to them, you probably still didn’t buy anything.
That’s because you didn’t know who that person was or the brand they were selling. There was no trust.
As a small business, Michelin needed to build trust, and they did that by creating valuable, trustworthy content. And when these same people needed tires, they knew whom to trust for the best products.
Similarly, create trustworthy content. When the time comes to buy whatever it is you’re selling, your subscribers will trust you enough to consider and even purchase your products.
3. It grows your brand
Michelin is now a universal brand. In fact, the Michelin guides became so popular that they became their own brand.
Because the guides were so helpful, it improved the perception of Michelin. The ratings in the guides are treated as gospel, and people will pay hundreds of dollars to eat at a Michelin-starred restaurant.
And because the guides are connected to the tires, the brand power transfers over.
As people consume more of your content, it strengthens your brand in their minds. So when you release a new product line or even a new company, you’ll have enough brand equity that you won’t be starting from scratch.
4. It’s share-worthy
Typically, products are not worth sharing. I’ve never seen anyone share an image of a tire online!
That’s where content comes in. Great content is share-worthy and shareable. When we read something good, we want others to know about it, too. It could be because we know someone who would benefit from the content, or because it was particularly funny or entertaining. After all, sharing stories is what we do as humans.
When Michelin writes a review of a restaurant you want to visit, that’s something you share with others. You let your friends to know about this new restaurant, so you can enjoy it together. When you share the content, you’re also sharing the Michelin name.
5. It attracts traffic
With a click of a button, we can post content to Facebook, Twitter and dozens of other social networks and forums. Every time your content gets shared, that’s more eyeballs and traffic to your site.
What’s more, you can repurpose those blog posts to videos and post it on YouTube, slideshows and post it on Slideshare, infographics and post them to Pinterest, and on and on, drawing in traffic from those sources.
And if your content is really great, people will link to it from their sites, sending referral traffic your way, too.
6. It helps you rank higher
As your content attracts more traffic, social shares and inbound links, it will start to rank higher on search engines.
Plus, with more content, you can target multiple keywords and keyword phrases. You’ll start to rank not just for your core keywords but also related keywords.
Additional factors that will improve your SEO are frequent and fresh content, more engaging content, and internal linking between posts.
A higher-ranking site means more free traffic. It’s common to see a site’s traffic increase rapidly once a good content strategy is in place, even without active content promotion.
7. It’s cost-effective
It must have been costly to produce books and ship them across the country back in 1900, but today the internet makes production and distribution of content nearly free.
OK, it still takes time and money to write an epic post. In fact, some companies spend thousands of dollars on a single content asset. But the returns make it worth it.
Here’s the math. One really good post can attract tens of thousands of views in the weeks after publication. As Jayson DeMers points out in this piece for Inc., that number keeps increasing over the lifetime of the post, even without active promotion, because of the SEO value.
That means you’re paying only a few cents for each visitor. Compare that to how much you pay for a click on Google Adwords. Some keywords cost up to $20 for one click!
Have you seen the light?
Look around you, and you’ll see people with their eyes glued to their phone. They’re either consuming content or sharing it. And if you’re not creating content, then the only way they’ll find you is if you interrupt them with ads.
Create content instead and reap the benefits.