“Content marketing is like a first date. If all you do is talk about yourself, there won’t be a second date.”

David Beebe

We have all heard the stories about terrible first dates. Someone turns up mega late (if at all!), they look completely different from the photograph you’ve seen, or the whole thing goes so horribly wrong that one of you ducks out of the bathroom window! But how does this relate to content marketing? Let us explain.

Couple share spaghetti on romantic date

What is content marketing?

Simply put, content marketing is all about providing your audience with useful information to help them solve their particular problem or come to a decision. This information can take a variety of forms, including blogs, podcasts or videos. Unlike in traditional marketing, you shouldn’t overtly encourage or push the audience to choose your product or service. Instead, your focus should be on being as helpful and informative as possible, making sure you answer any questions people might have. By choosing this approach, you can create a good first impression and retain the customer’s loyalty for the future when they’re ready to buy. Ultimately, it’s all about providing value, in whatever form is relevant, to the consumer.

Why content marketing is like a first date

On a first date, you don’t want to spend the whole time talking about yourself and what makes you so great. You’d just come across as arrogant, selfish and uninterested in the other person. If you actually want there to be a second date, you need to show the other person that you are willing to listen to them, take on board what they are saying, and even offer similar or related stories.

Content marketing is exactly the same. Your audience want to know that they are in the right place, that what they are reading is relevant to them, enjoyable and could be a place that they return to. There should be a free flowing conversation between both parties in which you endeavour to be as helpful as possible. If you impress your “audience” with your informative content, they’ll keep coming back for more, the much sought-after second, third and so on, dates.

How social media can keep the conversation flowing

Social media means that this date between you and your audience needn’t be one-sided. Individuals can easily respond to your content by posting comments, liking, and sharing. You can quickly identify which topics or type of content generates the most interest and engagement and adjust your marketing strategy accordingly. Take note of recurring questions and turn your answers into a new piece of content that you can then write and promote.

Every business is unique and so is its audience. Through audience research and a bit of trial and error, you will be able to establish which platforms work best for promoting your content. Think of the platform like  the location of your date. Where does your audience/date feel more comfortable and is more likely to engage with you? There’s no point spending lots of time and effort creating stunning, longer YouTube videos if your audience is actually on Instagram. Knowing more about who it is that you’re speaking to in more detail can be make or break, just like certain topics of conversation are a no-go if you want to make a good impression to someone!

Allowing the consumer to express an interest and start the conversation

The beautiful thing about content marketing is that the reader has control of the conversation. You might have started it by putting the initial piece of content out there, but it is up to them to respond and engage. When they do, you have the comforting reassurance that they are genuinely interested in what you have to say and so may be more open to purchasing your product or service when they’re ready. For example, they may have found your content through a search engine query, which is a conscious and deliberate act.

This in direct contrast to traditional advertising where your advert appears in front of an audience whether they’re interested or not. Think of TV adverts or billboards. This sort of advertising can reach a large number of people but many of them will have little to no interest in what it is that you’re offering. With content marketing, you can be confident that the individuals interacting with your content have at least some level of interest. Your date is happy to be there and talking to you.

In summary then, content marketing is like a first date because it involves two people  showing a genuine interest in each other and a willingness to learn more. If someone keeps coming back for more information, (or dates!), you know that you’ve made a good impression  and find your content useful. This is exactly the sort of person you want to attract and convert to being a customer of your business.

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Written by Anna Carruthers November of 2018