So, you’re a content marketer. What do you … do?
Yep, I’ve heard that one a bunch.
Content marketing has boomed in recent years. 84% of B2C companies used content marketing to grow their brand in 2019, and 59% of them increased their budget in 2020.
In 2020, 60% of marketers considered it a “very” or “extremely” important part of their marketing.
But for every company that swears by it, there’s at least one more that’s never heard of it – or that doesn’t see the point.
Content marketing is a major key to success online in the 2020s, and brands must get on board to survive. If you’re struggling with how to explain the value of content marketing to clients, this one’s for you.
How to Explain the Value of Content Marketing to Clients Who Don’t Get It
From the outside, content marketing can seem a bit mystical. It boasts stats like an earning ROI at a rate four times higher than the most targeted advertising and the ability to improve lead quality 72% of the time. Yet, ask five marketers what content marketing is, and you’ll get seven different answers. (If you’re lucky.)
Content marketing is everywhere, but not all content marketers are created equal. Here’s how to explain the value of content marketing and stand out as an expert in the field.
1. Explain What Content Marketing Is … and Is Not
Content marketing has taken over digital marketing – and for good reason! But what … is it? As it turns out, many people are still confused about the concept. It doesn’t help that there’s a lot of noise online adding to the confusion.
It also doesn’t help that there’s content strategy, content marketing, and content marketing strategy – three related but different concepts.
If you’re going to cut through that noise, you first need a solid understanding of what the heck content marketing is. (I’ve got a free masterclass on the topic if you want something quick and intensive.)
In a nutshell, content marketing…
- Involves the creation, publication, and distribution of content. Just like you create, publish and distribute ads, you’ll do the same with authoritative content that showcases your expertise.
- Uses a content strategy. A good content strategy aligns your content with your business goals. In other words, you should know exactly why you’re publishing a piece of content.
- Is anti-interruptive. You’re not trying to get into people’s faces. Instead, you’re creating resources that your audience is already searching for and letting them come to you. (Here are some great examples.)
Content marketing is NOT:
- Necessarily a blog. Content marketing involves thoughtful, long-form content that provides value independent of the services or products you sell. Some of the best examples of content marketing aren’t blogs at all.
- Your editorial calendar. While you might have one as part of your content strategy, it’s not merely the dutiful adherence to a calendar that tells you what to post and how to tag it.
- Purposeless. Every piece of content should serve a specific purpose. If anything about your content marketing feels endless, you’re doing it wrong.
2. Present Statistical Proof It Works
Things like PPC and outbound marketing were once the status quo in digital marketing, and it’s likely your clients not only have used them, but also have seen results with them. Likewise, they may have never heard of content marketing and maintain the mentality that if it’s not broken, it shouldn’t be fixed.
Or, they may have looked into it, only to stumble on some salesy guru of questionable expertise and developed a negative impression.
I’ve come across all three. The best way to neutralize these misgivings is to show them data that proves content marketing works.
Fortunately, there are lots of sources out there. Three of my favorites include:
- HubSpot’s annual State of Marketing Report. It emphasizes content marketing and identifies major trends.
- Content Marketing Institute’s B2C Content Marketing Report. Also produced yearly, it looks specifically at content marketing.
- My own case studies and examples. I talk a lot about how I grew Express Writers using content marketing, because it’s powerful proof that it works. If you already offer content marketing as a regular service, get in the habit of creating case studies of successful clients. They’re one of the most powerful forms of content for advancing your authority.
Content marketing is a data-rich field that emphasizes metrics. That makes it easy to prove to your future clients that it works. Source: HubSpot
3. Emphasize the Enhanced Customer Experience
In its 2020 Digital Trends report, Adobe noted that a customer-focused approach that emphasized a strong customer experience is the single greatest advantage that companies have in the digital landscape.
Does your company pay special attention to the experience it creates for its customers? If not, you need to adopt that focus right now.
Believe it or not, a lot of companies still haven’t figured out that customers value the experience you provide as much (if not more so) than your product or service. Gartner notes that two-thirds of customers determine their loyalty to a brand according to the experience they have with it.
Yet, according to PwC, 54% of US consumers think most companies need to up their customer experience game. That’s a huge gap between what companies deliver and what customers expect.
Content marketing enhances your customer experience because it emphasizes the creation and placement of content that solves a problem or provides information in anticipation of your reader’s expectations. It makes sure your content serves a purpose.
In other words, it gives your customers exactly what they need and want – exactly when they need and want it. No fluff, no obnoxious sales pitches.
Imagine having the information you need readily at hand to decide whether to purchase something. It makes it a lot easier to buy, right?
(Many companies map their content strategy onto their customer journey for just this reason. According to 99Firms, aligning content with the customer’s journey boosts conversion rates by as much as 72%.)
3. Identify Examples Within Your Client’s Industry
Does your client have any major competitors (or smaller rivals that are outperforming them)? Scope them out and see if they’re using content marketing.
I’ve found that presenting this evidence when I sit down with clients to be quite persuasive when getting them on board with content marketing for several reasons. It:
- Shows that you know your stuff. If you’re already researching clients to get a sense of them, their current practices, or their SEO game, it’s not a whole lot of extra work to look at competitor content marketing. Plus, it beefs up your competitive analyses.
- Can be the “aha” moment. If you’ve got someone on your hands who’s mystified as to how and why a rival is doing so well… it might be thanks to content marketing.
- Functions as a form of social pressure. If it seems like everyone in your client’s industry is doing it, they might be more inclined to follow suit.
There’s a really good chance that your clients’ competitors are doing content marketing. So, look for it and bring it up. Source: HubSpot
4. Be Upfront About Costs…
Trying something new that costs money is scary… especially if you’re not sure that it’s going to work. Fortunately, the thought leaders in content marketing have got your back there, too
Always be upfront about costs, not only what you will charge but how content marketing will cost over the long run. I’ve found it’s best to:
- Compare content marketing to other forms of advertising. For example, content marketing has been shown to cost up to 62% less than other forms of digital marketing.
- Show the monetary and non-monetary ROI. Highlight statistics such as the fact that content marketing generates 126% more leads and a 6% close rate (over a 1.7% close rate for outbound marketing).
- Run the numbers on your client’s actual data. If they’re already tracking leads and traffic, you can easily crunch the numbers to help your clients get a sense of their content marketing ROI. Personalized data FTW!
5. …But Emphasize Content Marketing’s Cost-Effectiveness
As we already mentioned, content marketing costs 62% less than traditional advertising. That’s a statistic that gets bandied around a lot, and it’s a great one for getting ears to perk up when you’re selling an idea. But there’s a lot to unpack in that statistic, so let’s break down why that is.
At its core, content marketing is generally known to have a much higher return on your investments than traditional advertising because of how it affects your presence online. Namely, it repositions you with a pull marketing strategy that makes it easier for those high-quality leads to find you. That means:
- Increased conversion rates. Demand Metric estimates that content marketing generates three times more qualified leads than traditional advertising. Your ideal readers are already looking for the content you’re publishing. Content marketing makes you easy to find.
- Lower cost per acquisition of leads. Evergreen content continues to yield leads long after you’ve paid for it, unlike keywords, ad campaigns, or other active advertising strategies for which you must actually pay. Likewise, 99Firms found that companies that excel in lead generation get 50% more of them at 33% of the cost.
- More time saved. Time is money, as they say. You’ll slim down your schedule and budget by focusing on only the pieces of content that actually serve a purpose.
- Authority in the search engine. Over time, you’ll rank higher in Google because you’ve demonstrated your expertise and proven your trustworthiness. That improves your brand’s reach, supporting all your other efforts.
Altogether? Your ROI on content marketing skyrockets.
5. Showcase the Benefits for Brands
At its core, content marketing serves to grow a brand by positioning it as a thought leader in the client’s industry. That’s something that other forms of marketing simply cannot do.
Emphasize this with your clients by providing plenty of examples of how content marketing benefits brands. Some of my favorites include:
- TED. Whether viewing a two-second clip of a speaker standing in a red dot or tuning in to one of their adorable illustrated videos, you always know immediately when you’re watching a TED talk. But what are they ultimately known for? Their content.
- Venngage. When you use their freemium infographics tool, you get access to a whole library of gorgeous templates. And what does Venngage do with them? Fill them with content meant to help you make better infographics… and lowkey show off their product in the meantime.
- Glossier. Glossier provides a rather neat take on content marketing because they grow their brand by saying nothing at all. Rather than advertising their products, they cultivate a raving fanbase. Their social media and blog are all about the community you join when you buy their products.
Many companies come to content marketing to grow their brand and stay for the enhanced lead generation. Source: Content Marketing Institute
6. Demonstrate How Content Marketing Holistically Supports Business Goals
Misalignment between sales and marketing is a trillion-dollar problem. According to Marketo, that problem can cost a company up to 10% of its annual revenue. Yikes. …👀.
What if I told you content marketing has all the tools you need to address it?
In the Beginner’s Guide to Content Strategy, I mentioned that content strategy and marketing align your content with your business goals. Together, they position content as a tool to help you meet specific goals or overcome specific challenges.
(Like that pesky little disconnect we mentioned above.)
As you’ll find, many content marketing methods can address all sorts of business/marketing roadblocks, and, as such, you’ll see content used in a lot of ways. Consider:
- Solving a known pain point for customers by delivering content that answers specific questions or provides specific guidance at a specific point in the customer journey.
- Improving brand awareness by creating a topic cluster full of information that’s scarce and in-demand.
- Entering a new market or reaching a new target audience by reframing your value proposition using blogs and social media posts that speak directly to them.
- Increasing lead generation and revenue by providing helpful content that people are seeking.
- Addressing current marketing struggles by demonstrating your brand’s authority in an industry using content.
Seriously. Roll up your sleeves, get down, and talk strategy to them. Watch those light bulbs turn on. 💡💡💡💡💡
The Value of Content Marketing Has Never Been Greater
It can be tricky figuring out how to explain the value of content marketing, especially when you’re dealing with clients who may be suspicious or set in their ways. However, armed with these five strategies, you’re ready to create a bulletproof, data-driven explanation that turns heads and hearts toward content marketing.
At its core, explaining the value of content marketing relies on a solid understanding of the field itself. Whether you’re an inveterate freelancer or a budding content strategist, make sure you learn the right things from people who know what they’re talking about.
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