You may wonder what the big deal is with content marketing, why it’s important to implement it, and what it’s going to do for you. Those are all valid things to want to know.

Here’s what some businesses and consumers say in answer to those queries:

  • 67% more leads are generated by companies that blog than those that don’t.

  • 61% of consumers say they feel better about, and are more likely to buy from, a company that delivers custom content.

  • Interesting content is one of the top three reasons people follow brands on social media

  • 14.6% is the close rate for organic search leads, compared to outbound marketing leads that have a 1.7% close rate.

  • 60% of consumers are more likely to be on the lookout for products when looking at content marketing.

Just Google content marketing; you’ll find these stats and tons more like it. There’s no question content marketing is important because consumers – the people who are buying what you’re selling – love when businesses like yours put out original, insightful, helpful content.

So what is content marketing?

Content marketing is bringing value and education – while sharing your story – with an audience who wants to hear it and doing it through the channels with which they are most engaged.

If you can remember these three words in that definition, then you’ll have the concept of content marketing nailed down: story, audience, channels. When you can identify and connect those three tenets, you’ll be on your way to producing great content.

Most of us know our business’ stories. It’s the sentence or two that comes flying out of our mouths when someone asks us what our product or service is. There are a multitude of channels you can use to promote your story including, but not limited to:

  • Blogging

  • Email marketing

  • Webinars

  • Social Media

  • Website

  • YouTube video

  • Podcast

  • Online advertising

  • Public speaking

No one has time or energy to be on all these channels with great content, (which is all you want to produce, right?), so how do you pick the ones you’re going to be on? That all has to do with your audience, sometimes a much harder nut to crack.

Developing your content marketing audience

Figuring out who your audience is starts with understanding the concept of a buyer persona, which is the ideal client profile (ICP) you want to reach with your content. Basically, picture the person who is most likely to buy from you. What problems and goals does this person have? What problems do you solve for this person?

Try to think of the buyer persona for your business as a real person. Maybe you already have a customer who fits your ICP whom you can use to create a picture of the personality, passions and priorities of your particular buyer persona. Once you have this role clearly established, it’s time to nail down what channels your buyer persona lives on.

First, check out where influencers in your industry hang out the most. If you’re selling arts and crafts, you’ll probably find out that Pinterest and Facebook are the best channels for you to be. If you’re selling B2B software, on the other hand, LinkedIn and Twitter will most likely be where your buyer persona spends most of his or her time.

Putting it all together

Remember, content marketing is about owning and using three ideas: your business’ story, the right audience and the right channels. Once you have those three figured out, the content marketing you produce will truly be helping the people you’ve meant for it to benefit.

Content marketing is an ongoing, cyclical process. Once you’ve determined your audience and channels, you may find that what you thought was your story doesn’t resonate with that crowd. For example, Instagram started out as a travel app where people could post comments and tell about where they’d been. The founders saw that people were only using the photo feature of the app, and so redeveloped everything to put the focus on that part of it. Now Instagram is hot, hot, hot.

It just goes to show you that content marketing isn’t only about producing something for your audience; it’s just as much about listening to that same audience.