Thoughtful marketing that offers advice and value will take place of generic advertising noise; messages that focus on the needs of the consumer, not the virtues of the product, will be the norm.

The future of marketing will be content marketing, and the future of business will belong to those companies that can master their message and tell a compelling story to an audience they know well.

The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – and ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

Content marketing allows you to build trust and relationships, and it gives your prospects and customers the information they need to better evaluate your products and services before making a purchasing decision.

Before you dive headlong into content marketing, it’s important to think about what exactly your company wants to achieve with it.

There are three distinct levels to content marketing, and each produces a different result. Let’s examine the three levels: being content aware, being a thought leader and storytelling.

The ground level of content marketing is being content aware. Here, your content works to cut through the noise of generic advertising to boost awareness of your product.

If you want to do more than just raise awareness, however, then you’re ready for the next level: being a thought leader. Being a thought leader means that you, as a brand, create content that delivers value beyond the scope of your product to establish your company as an industry expert.

The highest level of content marketing is storytelling. With storytelling, you provide your customers with an emotional link to your brand.

Once you’ve grasped the basics of content marketing and know at which level you want to operate, it’s time to start developing content. Importantly, you need to figure out who you’re talking to – who exactly is your audience?

Why is knowing who your audience is important? Your product is always the same…why not talk about that? It is after all what you’re selling – surely the product should be at the centre of your messaging. How will people know whether to buy it, if they don’t know about the product?

It’s what they always say about writing – before you put pen to paper, you’ve got to understand your audience first. Content marketing is absolutely no exception to this. In fact, it’s especially important in marketing because you depend on your audience for cash money.

Knowing what you need out of content is important; but creating good content is a larger challenge. To be a successful content marketer, you’ll need to find talented people to fill specific roles. The most effective content marketing teams are assembled from a strategic mix of talent with a strong “chief storyteller” at the helm.

Creating great content is obviously an important part of any content marketing plan, but your job doesn’t end as soon as you hit the publish button. If that content is going to bring you any benefits, people need to actually read it, and so your content promotion strategy is just as vital as the research and content production phases.

The number of ways you can promote your content is almost unlimited, and they’re growing all the time. The key to successful content promotion is not just sticking to the same old methods that everyone else uses.

So you’ve executed a content marketing strategy. What’s next?
Your last step is to evaluate just how successful your strategy was. Content marketers can measure success through four metrics: consumption, sharing, lead generation and sales. A solid understanding of all four metrics will allow you to accurately review your marketing strategy and improve it where and when necessary.

In conclusion…
To be an effective content marketer, you don’t just need more content. You need the right kind of content, expertly crafted, strategically released and tracked accurately for its effect on social conversations and sales.