Most of us have heard the common phrase, “You have to pay to play.”
In our time, when there is so much competing for our attention, this phrase rings truer than ever before. If you want to get people to pay attention to your brand or your business, you’re going to have to pay for it.
I don’t mean in money, but in providing value.
The only way to stand out in such a crowded market where you’re not only competing with other advertisers, but funny cat videos, baby pictures, and loads of other things on the internet is by providing content that is relevant and something your audience actually wants to consume and engage with.
Quality content is the price you have to pay to earn people’s attention. Until you have their attention as well as their interest or affection, you cannot expect as many prospects to engage with you in a meaningful way.
Giving away good content doesn’t always generate a great deal of short-term sales, but it builds brand, relationships, and generates more success over the long-term than can ever be achieved by skipping the courtship and going straight for sale.
Newer or smaller companies with smaller budgets are going to have to work especially hard to create content in order to get on people’s radar. They simply don’t have the inflated budgets or the brand name recognition of the bigger corporations.
But, what they lack in funds and reputation, they can make up for in speed. Decisions, implementation, and changes can be made much more quickly in a smaller organization than in a larger one. In a big company, every idea has to be vetted and scrutinized by a board of directors and a legal department before passing through a chain of command.
The good news is there are many cost-effective options that cash-strapped companies can use to get their name out there, such as organic social media marketing, SEO, paid social media ads (which are still under-priced for their value), and email newsletters.
But, all of this will take time and effort. In addition to all of the daily responsibilities of launching or running a business, brands are going to also have to create, share, or curate a great deal of media that will captivate the interest of their target markets. Most will have to outsource many of these responsibilities to others.
While it’s increasingly harder to buy your way to the top with expensive advertisements and commercials, you can now do it by frequently and consistently sharing content that educates, entertains, inspires, or serves as a resource of information. Once you gain a following, the selling part is easy. And the best part is that great content also inculcates brand loyalty and increases customer retention.
Giving away content and sharing it so often may sound like a lot of work, but content marketing becomes far more manageable as you gain experience with it. If you’re thinking that it’s annoying and not something you have to do, remember that content is your currency.
Why should anyone care about you or your business? Pardon my language, but honestly, why should anyone give an F about what you sell or what you have to say? You need to give them a reason to care. Depending on your business your content might have to establish thought leadership and demonstrate credibility. Maybe you’ll have to share useful and friendly tips. Or maybe you’ll have to make people laugh, smile, or feel warm and fuzzy.
Regardless of the substance of your content , it’s a value exchange and you won’t always get something in return — certainly not right away. But if your content is quality, you consistently put in the work, and you remain patient, you will ultimately reap the benefits.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed about coming up with content to create and having trouble getting started, here are some ideas.