Why content is still key when it comes to building your business

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Andy Cullwick is head of marketing at First4Lawyers

In a world increasingly dominated by technology, empathy can be the thing that sets you apart. Speak to your audience in a way that shows you understand what they want or may be going through

Content marketing may sound like a modern concept, but its origins date back hundreds of years.

Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the USA, is credited as being one of its earliest instigators when he published Poor Richard’s Almanac in 1732 as a way of promoting his own printing press.

Similarly, John Deere—a leading manufacturer of farming machinery—had it in mind in 1895 when it launched The Furrow magazine full of advice for farmers, which is still going strong today.

Over time, it has of course evolved with the emergence of different mediums and platforms, and tools such as search engine optimisation (SEO) and data analytics providing people with alternative means of reaching and reading their audience. 

But while it may not have been given its name until more recently, content marketing remains as important as ever, with a recent study by HubSpot revealing that 82% of companies use it as part of their marketing strategy.

Here are my top tips for creating content to boost your business.

Know your audience

Content marketing can place you as a thought leader in your field—as long as you’re speaking to the right people. Think about who your potential customer is, what information they might be looking for and which platforms they are likely to use to find it.

Research what content on each particular platform looks like. From long-form LinkedIn to short-form Twitter to image-driven Instagram, one size doesn’t fit all.

Ensure it is easily accessible (the one thing we can all agree on is the frustration caused by constant pop-ups and ads) and mobile-friendly, as more than half the content consumed is via our phones.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is also playing an increasingly important role in helping organisations understand their audience better, with technology now able to read and analyse data and identify patterns in consumer habits and behaviours.

Quality over quantity

Consumers are more discerning these days. None of us want to read a sales pitch, whereas if content is informative and engaging it’s likely we’ll stick with it and—more importantly—remember it when we need that product or service in the future.

Ads aren’t enough anymore, you have to be prepared to give some of your knowledge away for free. 

Content also shouldn’t be created just to cover off certain keywords. That strategy may have worked once, but Google’s algorithm has since changed and now places greater emphasis on the value that content gives to the reader instead.

Show your human side

In a world increasingly dominated by technology, empathy can be the thing that sets you apart. Speak to your audience in a way that shows you understand what they want or may be going through.

For law firms, for example, that could be explaining the process of making a claim or sharing a story of someone who has had a similar experience to them. 

The pandemic forced many brands to find different ways of connecting with consumers and there were some great examples. One of my favourites was Ikea’s Make Home Count campaign, a simple video filmed entirely by its employees reminding us to celebrate the everyday moments at home.

Content marketing is also a way to interact with your audience. KFC got this spot-on during lockdown when it encouraged customers to create their own finger lickin’ recipes and share pictures on social media. It also set them up perfectly for when restaurants reopened again, with the ad campaign tagline, “We’ll take it from here.”

Review, review, review

There’s no place for complacency in marketing—what works once won’t necessarily work always. Businesses should regularly review, not just their overall marketing strategy and individual campaigns, but each piece of content to see what worked well and what didn’t.

Refreshing your content is rarely a bad idea and it doesn’t have to mean starting from scratch. Popular pieces of content may be able to be repurposed for different platforms. For example, let’s say a law firm creates an infographic featuring various statistics. You could break the stats down and turn each one into a separate social media post. You could also create a case study for each statistic if you have clients who fit the bill.

The crowd isn’t always right

Just because the rest of the world seems to be producing their own podcast or joining TikTok doesn’t mean that it’s the right forum for you and your messaging.

New platforms are popping up all the time and it can be tempting to jump on the bandwagon, but it’s wise to take a step back and look at where your audience is first.

It’s certainly worth testing out new ways of communicating with consumers, but make sure it is a test and not a whole campaign you’ve thrown on there without doing your homework.

Not everything will be a good fit for your business, but that’s okay.

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