Let's just put it out on the table: Your customers don't care about your products or services.

What they do care about is how your brand can provide a solution to their wants and needs.

And that is why content marketing is the past, present, and future of marketing.

Content marketing allows you to become a memorable leader in your field while providing insanely valuable and relevant content to your target audience — which means accelerated sales growth for your business.

Brian Clark of Copyblogger says it best about content marketing: "If you're not showing up during the prospect's self-determined buying journey, you're not in the game."

We all know you didn't start your business to sit on the sidelines.

Let's take a further look at content marketing and outline how you can get in the game today via an intelligent content marketing strategy.

What Is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is the process of creating and distributing valuable, helpful, and engaging content to a specific audience to drive customer action.

When most people think of content marketing, they think of blog posts or articles (like this one.) But content can come in a variety of formats, including written, audio, and visual.

What makes content marketing unique from other forms of marketing is that it is not disruptive. You're not interrupting your buyer as they go about their day. With digital content creation, your target audience is actively searching for you and the valuable insight you provide.

Content marketing feels organic and natural (even though it follows a strategic formula.)

As Brian Clark stated, your target audience is already on a self-determined buying journey. They have a want or desire (your product or service), but they have questions along the way. When you provide fantastic content that solves your buyer's problems, you organically help them move closer to purchasing from you. Over time, you also become the trusted authority in your industry — and that is when you blaze past the competition.

In our world of information overload, there's enough average information floating around the internet. Luckily, your product or service isn't average. Create killer content that reflects this, and you'll gain the attention of your buyer.

Content Marketing Is The Past, Present, and Future of Marketing

Content marketing isn't anything new. Just look at John Deere.

Often dubbed "the original content marketer," the company published its first magazine, "The Furrow," in 1895. The treasured educational resource for farmers lives on to this day.

John Deere might not have called it content marketing at the time, but that's exactly what it was. The company created highly engaging, valuable information for their target audience, positioned John Deere as an expert and developed relationships with farmers that cemented brand loyalty. Today, John Deere is a multi-billion dollar company.

Digital content creation isn't going anywhere. If anything, it's more important than ever. The average person is exposed to 4,000 to 10,000 ads a day. At some point, we start ignoring those brands that do not leave an impression. With strategic content marketing, you cut through the clutter, connect with your prospects, and, ultimately, create lifelong champions of your brand.

A Content Marketing Strategy: the crucial difference

Many businesses go wrong with content marketing. The problem? They don't know the difference between content and content marketing.

Content marketing is not throwing up a blog post here or there when you have time. You must have a strategy. Here are our top tips for creating a winning content marketing strategy:

1. Who is your target audience?

You're not creating content for everyone. There's a specific group seeking your unique perspective, along with the benefits of your one-of-a-kind product or service.

It's not enough to know who your audience is. You must also dial in on where they spend time. This will inform the medium of content you produce. Long-form articles might not be the right type of content for your brand if your target audience spends most of their time on YouTube or Instagram.

2. Set SMART goals and determine KPIs

You can't manage what you don't measure. A well-defined set of KPIs and success metrics specific to your business goals is crucial to any content marketing strategy.

Be careful with vanity metrics. It's great if an article or video garners tens of thousands of views. However, if continual spikes in website traffic don't equate to business growth, it's time to look at whether you've optimized your content strategy to meet your goals.

Note — SMART is an acronym that stands for: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based. Use this to create crystal-clear goals that are easily trackable.

3. Distribute your content

Content marketing doesn't stop when you hit 'publish.' A winning digital content creation strategy includes a clear distribution plan.

Yes, your buyers are on a self-determined buying journey. But that doesn't necessarily mean they will stumble upon your content on their own. (At least not immediately; ranking first-page on Google doesn't happen overnight.)

Give your content a push — especially when you're just starting. Share your content on social media channels where your audience is spending time. Repurpose your content into email newsletters, SlideShares, or other media formats. Ask others in your network to share your content.

4. Don't forget about SEO

Search Engines reward websites that regularly publish high-quality content. Knowing the essentials of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) pays big rewards. Thankfully, modern SEO is less about using your target keyword a fixed amount of times and more about creating engaging, useful content organised around a central question or topic. Basic keyword research and following SEO best practices will set your content apart from the masses. An excellent content creation agency is a powerful resource here.

5. Tell your unique story

Your CTA is where you ask your readers to take the next step. 'Download this ebook.' Or 'subscribe to my YouTube channel.'

The proper CTA can have a dramatic impact on conversions, so don't leave it out.

Now's the part where we practice what we preach.

Content marketing works, but it's not an overnight success plan. If you want to see quicker, more impactful results from content marketing, consider calling in the experts.

Schedule a free consultation with our content creation agency to learn how our content creation services can help your business thrive. Then, get back to doing what you do best — running your business!