I used to hate marketing. I always had the notion that marketing was a sketchy, dishonest way of selling bad products. This vision was drawn from TV depictions of unethical salesmen pitching a bevy of low-quality products, praising every single aspect of them. Fast forward to 2020, and I love marketing. So what changed? Read on.
Marketing vs. ‘Marketing’
Content marketing is essentially the act of telling people what you or your business does. So how can you use content marketing to make your business more successful? You tell a story that is so compelling that it turns your audience into your customers.
I used to hate marketing because I always thought about the TV ads that I saw: overly excited voices trying to lure you into shelling out for yet another irrelevant product that you’ll forget about the day after you bought it. Only later did it occur to me that creating content is also part of the marketing process. In the last six months, I’ve written over 200 posts on various blogs. All this experience has taught me that content works!
Whether you’re a startup founder, working at an enterprise company, or freelancing, content marketing can boost your profile and raise awareness of your brand or a product that you’re building. It’s also the least invasive format of marketing. Although ads tend to be intruders on social media, people will often search out content marketing if it’s done right.
Next, I'm going to describe how I used content marketing in my professional journey as well as how you can use it to your benefit.
Content Marketing Done Right
We’re overstimulated by the vast quantity of content we encounter every day. You might rightfully ask why yours would make a difference. You do that by addressing a niche and showing your expertise along the way.
Before showing you how I’m using content marketing in my work, let’s discuss a general framework. We can split content marketing into five steps:
- Identify your niche, your expertise, or your passion.
- Find a story angle or a form of narration that is underserved in this niche.
- Choose your medium (e.g., text, video, podcast) and communication channel (e.g., Medium, YouTube, Anchor).
- Build a marketing funnel by converting your audience into subscribers through social media or email marketing.
- Monetizing your content by mentioning your products or services.
When you master all five steps, you can achieve remarkable things with content marketing. You can attract paying customers and build strong business relationships. Content can become your business card and the best recommendation for your services. People look for experts. They want to be sure that the product or the service they receive will be the best investment of their money. Content, which allows you to share your unique knowledge, builds credibility and conveys to people that they should choose you or your company.
Although good content is the first step in building awareness of your brand, it shouldn’t be the last. The most useful content has a clear call to action: ask people to subscribe to an email newsletter, follow you on social media, or sign up for a free trial. If you give your audience something valuable, they will try to be useful to you. Of course, you shouldn’t expect that all of them will buy something from you, but many of them will become your advocates, and some will eventually become loyal customers.
Case Study: Data Science Consulting
Let’s now get practical. Let me show you what I did for my business, which provides data science products and consulting. I run ulam.ai, where I provide data science consulting. Together with my team, I also build the content generation platform Contentyze with our own machine learning algorithm.
I run both a YouTube channel and a Medium blog. Writing is my preferred method of communication, but I still want to run a YouTube channel. Because YouTube is usually more quickly indexed by Google and other search engines, it lets my target audience discover my content faster. I also tend to create videos around texts I’ve posted on Medium, so it doesn’t take much more time than if I were just to create a blog post by itself.
In my writing, I approach two audiences: potential clients for my products and potential co-workers (as you might know, hiring a great team can also be a pain). That’s why I split my content into two streams. Pieces related to learning data science and machine learning compose one stream, and the other is a technological and marketing perspective on AI developments. To some extent, these niches intersect and complement each other, and I often have people interested in both angles of my content.
From the perspective of my potential customer, like a tech or marketing executive, both streams show my expertise and the quality of products I provide. Explaining concepts and creating educational material often positions you as an expert in a particular niche.
When it comes to distribution, I post all my blog posts on Medium and then repost some on related blogs like my data science website, Data Science Rush, where I collect educational material about data science. Social media is also essential in the distribution process. I use Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to provide links to my content and drive engagement from the audience. In particular, LinkedIn is perfect for building an audience because it supplies much more organic traffic than other social platforms. Don’t be afraid to publish posts daily.
Finally, I have an email newsletter to keep track of my audience across multiple platforms, I use ConvertKit, which is a great tool for managing subscription forms and tracking them. Everything I publish features a call to action for subscribing to my email newsletter, and potential customers can also subscribe on my website. The newsletter is often the easiest way for people to start engaging with your brand.
Who Is Content Marketing for?
Content marketing is a marketing tool for everybody, really. It’s also the cheapest way to start with marketing. And there are no downsides. Content that you put online might work for you years from now since great content tends to live longer. Thanks to articles I’ve published, interesting people get in touch with me regularly. Together, we’ve created great partnerships, from business deals to guest posting or podcasts. Without content marketing, I wouldn’t be where I am today with my business.
Another thing to remember is that you don’t need to have a product to start with content. You can grow your audience in anticipation of the future releases and begin building your position within a specific niche. So don’t wait — start building your content channel now. Doing so will greatly help you in all your future work.