By now, most of us have heard more than enough about using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networking sites for business. But have you heard the newly popular buzzword “Content Marketing”? This new marketing trend might just be your key to bringing in more Web traffic and leads for your organization, and can also enhance your public image.

Content marketing is basically the creation and distribution of useful information on the internet, in order to generate more good traffic to your Web site, and position you and your business as a thought leader. The information can be in the form of articles, white papers, videos, newsletters, webinars, blogs, podcasts, emails, and more.

These days, the majority of people research products on the internet. If they find the helpful information they are looking for in the content you have written or provided, free of charge, the customer can begin to view you as a useful source, rather than someone who just wants to push their product on you.

The idea behind content marketing is that as more and more prospects or customers view you as a useful informational source, good feelings are generated, brand awareness is enhanced, and you soon have a loyal, purchasing customer.

In order to be effective, content marketing cannot include sales-type text that is focused on the features your business offers. Instead, the information you provide should give them something of value, information that cannot be found just anywhere, but rather from you because of your expertise.

Not only do people appreciate your information, but so do Google and other search engines. Google just loves unique and original information, and will reward you for it with better rankings.

Here are some examples of how different companies could start up content marketing. (The best method will vary by business type!)

    • Heating and Air Conditioning Business:

      Create a newsletter where you provide monthly tips on how to maintain your furnace and air conditioner and tips on keeping heating and cooling bills down.

    • Retail Pet Store:

      Create a monthly e-mail marketing campaign, using the e-mails you collect from your customers, and send a monthly email about trends in pet care and ways to ensure the health of a pet.

    • Agricultural Products Distributor:

      Create a blog where you post one or two times a week about new technology available in your industry to farmers. Talk about how the new technology will (or won’t) help your customers. Let customers jump in and provide feedback on your comments.

Building a content marketing program takes time, but the rewards can be great, and you have to start somewhere! You might just be surprised how many people really want and need the information you have to offer.