It's almost impossible to see the short term effects of content marketing. Most business owners are more interested in seeing immediate results from advertising efforts. With traditional advertising, you can usually measure a change in sales that's directly related to a current or immediately preceding ad campaign.
In the age of the internet, that traditional advertising/measuring method breaks. Those of you who started your business prior to 1999 might still believe that you can throw more money into your ad budget and have higher returns, but that's just not true anymore.
The internet is now ubiquitous and your clients are always connected. They have the power to search for information no matter where they are, and no matter what time it is.
If you're a business owner who wears many hats, you need to think about the advertising methods you're using and if they are working to steadily build your business over time.
If you're a business owner, you're worried about today's sales, this month's sales, and if you will still be in business a year from now.
The paid advertising you are familiar with seems appears as a bottomless pit of expense trying to drain you dry. Even though it seems like an endless expense, you believe that you have to keep paying into it just to stay in business.
The truth is, this type of pay-to-advertise thinking is archaic. The internet is truly a business owner's best new friend.
* The internet wants you to grow your business.
* The internet wants to give you new customers every day.
* The internet wants to see your name everywhere.
* The internet only asks one thing in return: feed it.
Feed the internet? Exactly what am I talking about and why does it sound like a singing, man-eating plant?
Every time you search the internet, you expect to find the latest information. You want the latest news, the latest movie schedule at the local theater, and the latest products available on Amazon.com.
All that new information is fed into the internet daily. You would not bother to read your favorite news website if it were not updated daily. You would not visit Amazon.com if it didn't have a current inventory products.
The most popular websites didn't start out as overnight successes. Every one of them, Amazon, Google, and Facebook included, started out small. They attracted a small audience which in turn motivated the owners to figure out how to continue to attract even more people.
Internet growth requires user interaction, but user interaction doesn't come without interesting content. Facebook allowed their users to create content. Google went out and organized the content everyone else was creating. Amazon built a massive product database.
All of this took a long time and a lot of human labor. That's the same thing that needs to happen on your website. You have to feed content into your website.
Alright, so what's content in today's world?
Actually, it's everything.
Need me to be more specific?
* The words you have on your home page
* The blog entry that tells the story of a couple who bought a ring in your store
* The photos you have on your staff page
* The photos you uploaded to Flickr
* The customer reviews about you on Yelp
* The photo one of your customers uploaded to your Foursquare venue when they checked in while in your store last time
* Your product catalog on your website
* The landing page you put on your website to correspond to a newspaper ad
* and a few more content examples here
Every place your business name appears online can count as the neverending feeding of the internet. The more information there is, the more likely your business will appear in the search results no matter where your customers are, and no matter what time of day they search.
The nature of the internet is such that you can't build up your online identity overnight. You have to grow your online identity naturally. Think of your online identity as a young child that needs to eat healthy if they are to grow up strong over 18 years.
Will you feed the child the same exact food every day? Not likely since that leads to vitamin deficiencies and growth issues. It's the same situation with your online identity, you can't keep doing the same thing over and over again, you need to do things a little different every day, or week.
No matter how much money you have, and no matter who you are willing to pay, there's no way to grow a child into a full grown person over night. Likewise, you can't pay to have an overnight online success. Many of the internet "overnight" successes we do hear about were actually being worked on for a few years before the public found out about them.
Your business will grow over time as long as you keep feeding into your website. You could feed your website a lot of information very quickly, but this is akin to making a child fat. That fat doesn't have an immediate benefit, but it does eventually help the child grow.
Longterm steady content creation is the best approach to building your website, and therefore your business. The internet wants you to be big and strong, and have an online identity everywhere, but it takes time, and contribution by many people.
Think of the proverb "it takes a village to raise a child" and what it means. Similarly, it takes many different people, including employees, programmers, designers, photographers, writers, customers, and even yourself to raise a website.
With all these analogies I'm throwing around, I hope your getting the point that content creation is the key to long term success. This is the new age of marketing and there's really nothing too difficult about it other than commitment.
If you don't have the commitment, then don't set up a website. If you don't set up a website, you might as well not other going into business at all--or staying in business for too much longer.