The advent of online content marketing was something that revolutionized the world of PR, marketing, and advertising.
With audiences becoming increasingly annoyed with intrusive and invasive advertisements, and with ad block and video services like Netflix hampering old-school display ads and TV commercials, brands have found a whole new approach.
It's all about inbound marketing these days.
Why be the commercial that interrupts a person's favorite TV show, when instead, you could be the TV show?
Brands of all stripes are rapidly becoming the publishers of the future.
By creating magazine-style articles, step by step tutorials, entertaining videos, and more, both B2B and B2C companies are able to attract the right audience for their products or services.
When you have great content, people actively seek it out.
The challenge here, though, is that however awesome your content may be, it's still a means to an end: profit.
It's all about the bottom line.
You're trying to sell a product, rather than your content itself being the product. (Not that the latter isn't feasible; far from it.)
But at the same time, your customers don't want a blatant sales pitch shoved in their faces. There's a time and a place for the hard sell, but this isn't it.
In a recent blog post from Practical Ecommerce, business writer Armando Roggio explains how to feature your product in your videos and articles, without being salesy in a way that turns people off.
There is a subtle art to content marketing, to balance the need to sell products while offering audience-centric, helpful information.
How does a business integrate the products it sells with the content it publishes without cheapening articles or videos meant to engage?
Focus on How Products Are Made or Used
Content — be it an article, a social media post, or a video — can be useful, informative, or entertaining and still be about your business or your products.
The difference is in how that content describes your products. If your business comes across as self-interested, your content marketing will fail. But if you can convey passion or value in a way that captivates, you should be successful.
Use Products in a Matter-of-fact Way
The term “matter-of-fact” can have two meanings. First, it can describe something that is factual. Or second, it can be applied to things that are practical.
It is the latter, practical sense that we want to focus on next.
Simply put, you can introduce your products into your content when they make sense or when they are practical.
Treat Your Content Like a Magazine or Show
Some have argued that content marketing, in effect, takes out the advertising middleman.
When your business buys an ad on radio, on television, in a magazine, or even on Google AdWords, what you are really doing to paying to access the audience another company has built.
You pay the radio station, Spotify, or Pandora to share your audio ad with listeners they attracted. You pay the television station, Hulu, or YouTube to show your videos to the viewers they garnered.
When you produce valuable content on your own, you are, in a sense, building your own audience. You have become the publisher or broadcaster.
You can find more ways to subtly showcase your products over at Practical Ecommerce.