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No Content Marketing? You Just Handed The Market To Your Competitors Is content the best way to market your business?

By Alex Ionides

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Imagine that your competitors are putting out engaging, relevant, high-quality content almost daily. They are working hard to grow and engage with their followers across social media, build their email subscriber list, and warm up to the traditional media in your space. In their efforts they are getting their content not only in front of their customers and prospects on a daily basis but in front of yours as well. Their voice is authoritative and they are being seen as experts.

Their sales team is also heavily involved, leveraging their content marketing as a vehicle to reach out directly to their audience of prospects, which again will almost certainly include your customers. They are sending out studies and articles and media of all types that serve as free information of relevant value, using that content as a personal introduction. In turn, that audience is seeing your competitor in a great light.

And while that audience may not consciously notice the absence of your voice, as far as your brand image is concerned your silence is deafening.

Is content the best way to market your business?

In the US, content marketing now represents about 30% of B2B marketing spend. Companies are learning the value of giving their customers something for nothing. Unlike a free gift, which may lure a customer in but tells them nothing about you as a business, content marketing builds a relationship with your customers (and potential customers) that is well worth the investment.

In a world that is constantly looking for added value, content provides it. Content marketing gives you the chance to show your expertise, personality, values and integrity. It gives you a voice in the marketplace and can serve to gather leads, so that by the time your sales team makes contact with your prospects, the initial job of explaining who you are and what you do is complete.

Businesses no longer need to rely on the traditional sales approach of getting your foot in the door and begging for an audience. With content marketing the audience comes to you and, through sharing, brings its own referrals. For all but the richest businesses, this is ground-breaking. Sharing knowledge and expertise through white papers and thought leadership articles is nothing new but the internet has opened up the opportunity for every business to do it and in a much more targeted and measurable way.

Benefits not features

We are all familiar with the old marketing adage of plugging the benefits of your services or products rather than the features. Content marketing does exactly that. It focuses on topics that are close to the customer's heart, offering advice and solutions that provide them with a genuine benefit. That sort of customer engagement is very valuable indeed. When the time comes for them to buy, they will make the connection between their need and the source that offered the solution and the sale will be yours.

Traditional marketing collateral such as brochures, product sheets, adverts and even websites cannot build that kind of relationship. Customers love to receive information without feeling like they're the victim of a hard sell.

It draws them in, builds loyalty and ultimately increases sales.

Time to get your voice out there

A quick scan of your competitors' websites will give you an idea of just how active they are in content marketing. Then it's time for you to respond. You cannot sit outside the publishing efforts of your industry; you have to be one of the drivers. Content marketing takes time to build up, so start as soon as possible. The first six months are very much the testing period, when you find out what works best and you start building that relationship with your audience.

After publishing content of a consistent quality, there will come a time when all of a sudden you notice engagement starting to shoot up. It's as if something clicks. And it leads to ROI that you can actually measure. This is your reward for committing to producing regular, high-quality content and working hard to distribute it to the right demographic.

Congratulations. You found your loyal audience.

Related: Three Ways To Make Visual Content Marketing Work For You In 2018

Alex Ionides

Managing Director, Silx

Alex Ionides is Managing Director of Silx, a Dubai-based digital marketing agency. Previously, Alex was General Manager of the Dubai office of global PR company Hill+Knowlton Strategies, and Managing Director of Munich-based marketing agency Threeview. He grew up in Vancouver, Canada, receiving a Bachelor of Applied Science in Mass Communication from Simon Fraser University. In addition to his career in marketing, Alex worked for many years as a journalist in the Middle East. He has lived and worked in the US, Germany, Hong Kong, Egypt, and now Dubai.

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