You probably hear a lot about content marketing these days. Possibly you’re not quite sure what it means, and even if you are, you may be wondering if it’s important for your business. Content marketing leverages informative and educational content to attract and engage with customers and prospects in order to build a preference and loyalty to your brand.

Why should you care about content marketing? Content marketing is effective because it generates awareness about your business and builds trusted connections.  After all, you are giving your customers and prospects something they can use — knowledge or insight about a market or a new technology or a better way to do something – for free.  Furthermore, Search Engine Optimized (SEO) web content enables your business to be found by search engines, which drives more traffic to your site.

Getting started

You don’t want to just start publishing content. Just as with any marketing initiative, you need a plan that includes who you want to reach, what information your audience wants and how you plan to roll out the content to create awareness and build engagement. Also consider the budget you have to develop content in case you need to outsource for help.

A blog post, press release or article on your site can help generate awareness. Once you’ve made the connection, you can begin to seed information that speaks to the products and services you offer through white papers, case studies, newsletters, guides and even short how-to videos.

Case studies can be a key component of your content strategy

For example, if you are a realtor, you might want to create an article for your website about “How to give your house more curb appeal.”  Use highly searched terms to achieve a high rank on search engines to attract readers to your site. If they like the information about your firm, they may want to sign up for your newsletter or blog to get information from you on a regular basis. When they are ready to sell their home, you’ll be top of mind.

Don’t hesitate where possible to re-purpose already existing materials. Consider using a blog post or press release as a newsletter article. Share content from other sites, such as creating a blog post about an article you’ve read. (See: Small businesses help UC spending pick up the pace.)

Finally, don’t forget to leverage your content on social media sites. Post links to your content on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to keep your friends and followers in the loop and also in the hopes they will comment and share.

They say knowledge is power. Knowledge delivered in engaging content can be a powerful way to help you generate leads and new business.