We keep hearing the phrase ‘content is king,’ but what does it mean, and why is it so?

Traditionally, businesses have poured money into media in the form of print radio and television advertising. Those companies who could afford to spend mega-bucks on good creative and prime positions saturated these outlets and earned sales as a result.

However, now that the Internet has made its way into everyone’s daily lives – from grandmas to toddlers – the marketing platform has been levelled. Enter inbound marketing.

No longer do companies have to spend large amounts of money on advertising or on paying for leads and marketing lists.

Now they can focus on attracting people to their product or service through frequent and value adding content; hence why content is king.

A big reason why content marketing trumps traditional advertising, is that search engines reward the publishers of good content by providing them with good rankings. While Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) used to function on a keyword basis, search technology now ranks content on topic relevance. Therefore the greater the amount of content a company publishes online, the greater chance it has of achieving a high listing in its chosen area. This allows smaller organisations the opportunity to compete with the big names, simply by writing compelling and frequent content.

Additionally, the uptake of social media – among both consumers and businesses – allows the viewers of a company’s content to easily share what they read. Rarely do consumers share advertisements unless there is an intrinsic value gained from viewing it. Good content on the other hand, has the advantage of being informative and entertaining all at once. This means it has a much higher chance of being shared, which expands your reach.

What is good content?

To be deemed ‘good’ content, a published article must add value. In a marketing sense, value is defined as as being helpful, entertaining, controversial or personal.

Good content marketing does not try to ‘sell’ to the consumer. Instead it aims to inform and show that a business knows the industry, knows the product, and therefore offers quality.

As an example, John Deere – a household name even though many of us don’t buy tractors – has often been credited as the original content marketer, launching the magazine The Furrow back in 1895.

It has now been 120 years, and the magazine is still in publication. It is distributed in 12 different languages, is available online and is still free.

The Furrow is popular because it’s written by contributors who know the subjects of interest to farmers, and is not filled with advertorials and promotional messages. It adds value and is therefore popular among its target audience.

How do you employ a content marketing plan into your business?

First of all, think outside of just writing articles and white papers. Content marketing can include things like video, e-books, infographics, how-to guides, photos and case studies. A question and answer style interview can provide an excellent opportunity for your consumers to have a peek inside the company, which makes your connection with them personal, while still delivering a key message.

Of course, if you have a compelling enough story, a combination of these elements will ensure you engage a broad audience. As an example, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia's Women in Focus campaign is a content marketing plan that combines video, blogs, industry articles and case studies, with great results.

The main point is you have to get involved with frequent, informative and value adding content.

If you do put a content marketing plan in place, you will see your web traffic increase. If you develop and implement a well thought out and targeted content marketing plan, you will be on your way to creating brand loyalists.

Key points that make content king:

  • It has levelled the playing field a fair bit
  • It is cheaper to produce than traditional advertising
  • SEO – search engines reward the publishers of content with good rankings
  • Pay Per Click (PPC) needs good content behind it to work
  • It has more chance of being shared and broadening your audience

If done right, content can position you as a thought leader in your industry.