What if your clients looked forward to receiving your marketing? What if they spent twenty minutes with it and shared it with their friends? Build an audience that builds your business with content marketing. Defining Content Marketing Content marketing is defined by the Content Marketing Institute as \u201ca strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience\u2014and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.\u201d The keywords here are valuable, relevant, and consistent. The average consumer is hit with nearly 3,000 marketing messages every day. Make yours stand out by being helpful as opposed to flashy. Content Marketing vs. Traditional Advertising If you\u2019re posting a claim, such as \u201cAmerica\u2019s Favorite\u201d or \u201cThe Best in the State,\u201d you\u2019re using advertising, not content marketing. Take United\u2019s tagline, for instance: \u201cFly the Friendly Skies\u201d sounds alright, but it\u2019s too generic for a consumer to remember which airline said it\u2014or, more importantly, for a consumer to believe it\u2019s true. They\u2019re not backing up their claim with any data, so it fades into the background. On the other hand, Colgate\u2019s website is a prime example of content marketing done right. Pop onto their page and you\u2019ll get a window offering you coupons (value). While they do make an advertising claim, \u201cCaring for your smiles generation after generation,\u201d they back it up with the section immediately below titled, \u201cFind Answers\u201d that teaches readers about oral health conditions, cosmetic dentistry, and how to be proactive about oral health (relevant information). Their website features a variety of blogs every month written by Doctors of Dental Surgery and Doctors of Dental Medicine (consistent). Because Colgate offers information that aims to educate its consumers as opposed to sell them products, they\u2019ll keep coming back, building brand awareness and loyalty. In short: Advertising makes generic claims for a quick sale model, but content marketing keeps customers in touch with your brand before, during, and after a purchase by genuinely helping them. Generate and Nurture Leads As businesses strive to expand their online reach, budgets for content marketing are growing and new promotion strategies are being explored. Content marketing is important for a number of reasons, beyond just providing your consumer with useful information. Your marketing should be a gift to your customer that also gives back to you. Lead Generation and Nurturing Create and share free content to attract and convert prospects into customers, and customers into repeat buyers. Consistent, relevant, and valuable content drives traffic to your website, helping you nurture long-term leads. If your customers find your information helpful enough, they will share your content to social media, enabling you to reach a new audience for free. Risk Mitigation Content marketing helps to establish trust between your business and your customer by providing them with enough information to help them make a purchasing decision they feel secure with, reducing future risk of slander, refunds, or poor reviews. Content Marketing Tactics From podcasts to ebooks to webinars, there are hundreds of different ways to get information to your audience. Here are the most popular content marketing options used by businesses today: \tSocial media (excluding blogs) \t55% of marketers distribute information to Twitter \t54% of marketers distribute information to Facebook \t51% of marketers distribute information to Facebook \t54% of marketers distribute information to Facebook \t51% of marketers distribute information to Instagram \t38% of marketers distribute information to YouTube \tArticle posting \tIn-person events \tE-Newsletters \tCase Studies \tBlogs According to Marketo\u2019s data, 51% of surveyed businesses plan to increase their spend on content marketing in the next 12 months, while 45% plan to keep it the same and only 2% plan to decrease. Likewise, 52% of B2B businesses use both in-house help and outsource to develop a content plan and get their message across to consumers. Biggest Takeaway At the end of the day, the most important thing is to be helpful to your audience. These are your clients and customers\u2014you want them to succeed! What content marketing tactics have worked well for you? Share your content marketing tips below!