?Content is king.? When I first started in digital marketing working for a company that specialized in Search Engine Optimization, I heard this phrase over and over again. At that time, Google’s search algorithm heavily favored websites with a lot of content that focused on their core services or products. For example, if you were a lawyer with a practice focused on personal injury, your website had page after page after page devoted to personal injury.??

That was 2010, and so much has changed since then. Google?s algorithm is much more sophisticated, and it?s much more difficult to game the system by overloading it with that kind of content. Instead, Google favors image-heavy sites, readability, and popularity on social media, among many other factors. In other words, Google demoted content.?

Does that mean that the king is dead? Not quite. Content is still king, but it?s evolved into a discipline in and of itself: content marketing.?

So, what is content marketing marketing, and how can it help your business?

Content Marketing: the Basics?

To define content marketing, let?s look to the Content Marketing Institute?s definition: ?Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience ? and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.?

We?ll examine how content marketing can help your business a little further on. For now, let?s focus on that excellent definition of content marketing. As good as that definition is, it?s a little heavy on the industry speak and light on the clarity.?

At its core, content marketing is about conveying your value to your target audience. It?s telling–and showing–your audience how you and your product will make their lives better. It?s the work you do to add value in the day-to-day lives of your current and potential customers by addressing and solving the problems they face every day.

If you do this, then you become a hero in the eyes of your audience. Your business becomes something they can trust and look to when they need help so when your audience is ready to make a purchase you are top of mind.?

(What it doesn?t mean, by the way, is that you shamelessly promote yourself or your business.)

Let?s look at other ways content marketing can help your business.?

Gives You a Framework to Present Your Products/Services

As I mentioned above, content marketing is NOT about the blatant promotion of your products and/or services. But you can and should present what you do in the content of addressing the pain points of your target audience.?

When you develop a content marketing strategy, you should detail your target audience?s pain points for yourself. It?s easier to present your services and/or products when you know who why and to whom you?re selling.?

Get Leads Into Your Funnel

As you engage your target audience via your content marketing strategy, you should be getting new leads into your marketing funnel.?

When potential and current clients see your marketing content, you need to present ways they can engage with you and your product, such as downloading an ebook in exchange for their email or a call to action to get more information on a certain topic. The information you collect should be entered into your system of marketing under new leads you need to follow up with at? a later date.?

Moves Customers Down the Funnel

Not only does content marketing get people into your funnel, it moves them down the funnel so you can close the sale. Remember: a key characteristic of content marketing is that it has to educate your audience (which also happens to be one of the marketing and sales funnel stages).?

So, as you move potential customers down the funnel towards becoming paying customers, you are also educating your audience.?

Make Your Organization the Expert

I always tell my clients that I want them to become the known experts in their industry. I touched on this above, but if you are consistently addressing and solving problems for your audience, you become an expert in their eyes.?

Yes, my clients are the experts in their fields. But it?s sort of the tree falling in a forest conundrum: if they are an expert but no one knows it, are they really an expert? That?s why clients come to me?to develop a strategy to make them the known expert so that people want to come to them to solve their paint points.?

Develop a Lasting Relationship with Your Audience

What this all amounts to in the end is trust. By consistently addressing and solving the pain points your clients face, you become a trusted and invaluable resource. This provides the foundation for a lasting relationship that keeps your audience coming back and turns them into your best advocates.?

It is impossible to tell the future, but I would venture to say that when it comes to marketing, content will remain king for quite some time. It will most likely evolve as we (the consumers) and technology evolves, but for now, it rules in the form of content marketing. The cool thing is that we all have access to the throne if we are willing to take it.?

My question to you: how are you going to rule your kingdom?

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