Content marketing is changing how companies communicate with customers

There’s a revolution going on. Many of you have probably experienced it. It comes in the form of a tweet, a Facebook post or a custom magazine targeting consumers that are a part of a niche audience.

It’s the content marketing revolution. In its simplest terms, content marketing is meeting customers where they are and providing them not with what the business wants to tell them, but with what they want to know.

While its has been slowly advancing for years, the content marketing tide has finally turned. Virtually every company is doing some form of it, and its share of marketing budgets has steadily increased, hitting 28 percent this year, according to the Content Marketing Institute.

Here are five steps companies should take to embrace the revolution and transform their marketing:

  1. Know the audience. This sounds obvious enough, but most companies do not start with this basic step. Companies are used to telling people what they want them to know. But the world has changed and buyers are now empowered to seek the answers to their questions. It’s critical to understand what information buyers are looking for, where they are looking for it and how they want to consume it.
  2. Know one’s self. It’s not just about what a company sells, but where it’s sold, how it’s sold and how the company works with customers to solve problems. An organization needs to understand the niches it owns, what differentiates it in the market and what really works (and what doesn’t) in the sales process. In short, an organization should understand what value proposition is offered to customers and prospects.
  3. Create the company story. Once there is a solid understanding of who the audience and the company are, it’s time to demonstrate an organization’s expertise and value to the market. The best way to do that is through good storytelling. The human race has been telling stories for millennia. Why? Stories are what the mind remembers. To be useful to a business, storytelling needs to put a product or expertise in a context that is relevant and engaging to the audience.
  4. Share the story. Technological innovations have given companies powerful tools and abundant opportunities to engage with customers like never before. In the process, companies have been transformed into publishers and broadcasters. But like anything else in business, there has to be a plan. A content calendar is a good place to start.
  5. Know the metrics. Storytelling efforts ultimately must align with business goals to drive the results being sought. The only way to know if a company is succeeding is to measure the output. This will identify where the efforts are working (so more can be done) and where they are not — so the company can move on and not waste more effort.

In the content marketing age, every company is a media company. Following these five steps will help organizations embrace this new role and utilize these new communication channels to build and strengthen its relationships with customers and prospects.