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Bill Gates wrote an essay in 1996 titled “Content is King”. This piece predicted content would become an internet money-maker. Gates called out the need to provide information and entertainment. He said content was cheap and easy to create for anyone with a PC. Gates talked about online magazines adapted for the web and the importance of rewarding people with engagement and good information. The article concludes with this line:  Those who succeed will propel the Internet forward as a marketplace of ideas, experiences, and products-a marketplace of content. To the surprise of no one, Gates was right. Content marketing continues to prove his point.

Content Marketing is About the Customer

At its core, content marketing is about the customer. It’s the creation and sharing of online materials related to a brand, but not explicitly promoting it. The goal is to draw customer attention and ultimately be useful. The materials should provide value to the target audience through information such as advice or instruction. Or they can provide entertainment—more on that later.

Even though content marketing isn’t a hard sell, it’s still tied to a brand. Instead of an ad for a weekend sale at a coffee shop, content marketing is an infographic on coffee origins. This content is useful, interesting information that’s tied to the coffee shop. However, it isn’t selling anything. Content marketing is seen as the human side of business.

Soft Sell

When you provide people with useful information, you’re building brand reputation. You’re gaining consumer trust and creating a reputation of knowledge and legitimacy. Done right, content marketing will lead to increased sales, cost savings, and repeat business. If your customers look forward to your newsletter, blog, or latest video, you’re on the right track. The video below is an example of how John Deere’s magazine The Furrow has been effectively used as content marketing for 124 years.

That’s Entertainment!

Content marketing is definitely about education, but it can also be about entertainment. Think about the kind of content you’re willing to pay for. Did you see any of the Lego movies? Maybe you took the whole family? If so, we bet the kids in the group were all jazzed up about getting the latest Lego set. Those movies could be seen as extended toy commercials. Don’t feel duped by that take on the movie. After all, there was value for you in seeing the film. It’s a form of branding, delivered in a very entertaining way.

Engage with Customers

Options for content marketing are myriad. When it comes to what will work best for your brand, listen to your customers. Pay attention to the questions they ask about your product or service and give them the answers. What are they most interested in knowing more about and how can you provide that information in an engaging way? Here are some forms of content marketing that can help you connect with customers:

  • Videos
  • Infographics
  • Case studies
  • Enewsletters
  • Blogs
  • White papers
  • Webinars
  • Testimonials

Best Practices

As we keep saying, content marketing is all about the audience. So it makes sense to start by knowing who you’re talking to. Create a buyer persona to put yourself in the shoes of the person you’re trying to help. Now you can do a little research on what it is they want to know about your product. This will help you decide what kind of content marketing you’d like to produce. Every new video, infographic, or blog created for your website results in a new index. That means a shot at increasing your search ranking, which means more people will find your business. There are plenty of other best practices when it comes to content marketing, and all roads lead to success.

Engaging Content

Bill Gates was right: content IS king! Content marketing is a valuable tool that increases brand recognition and builds consumer trust. Videos such as explainers, behind-the-scenes clips, and tutorials are examples of content marketing that connects with consumers. Call us today to discuss the kind of video that will make you a brand hero.

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