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The Benefits of Being Helpful

It’s back to the future when it comes to content marketing…

Content marketing is definitely the new buzzword, but when you look at the principles behind it, they’re as old as marketing itself. It’s about providing something for nothing. It’s the virtual equivalent of handing out samples at your local supermarket. It’s about being helpful.

The question, then, is how to make the content you have on offer more valuable in a market crowded with content?

Someone in a supermarket handing out samples of a new type of sausage is helpful, because it provides an idea for dinner. If you’re IKEA, providing free notepads, pencils and measuring tape is helpful because you know people are going to need them.

The key to creating valuable content is to know what your audience needs. We’re not talking about pandering to the audience, or changing your offering based on who wants what, but structuring your content so that it best appeals to the people who are going to come across it.

Most banks and home loan providers feature a mortgage calculator on their website. The best mortgage calculator – the one with the most features, the one that helps you figure out the best budget – is the one you’re going to use the most. Which means that when the time comes to choose a loan, for some reason the logo of that same bank keeps popping up into your mind…


How to make content helpful

Even if being helpful doesn’t create an immediate benefit for brands, it has become a necessity in the current climate. To not be actively helpful is to be unhelpful, whether you’re doing it intentionally or not. The public attention span is short and getting increasingly shorter, and capturing any form of extended attention requires a careful blend of showing what you’ve got and showing what you can do for the consumer.

In a way, content marketing has brought us full circle, back to a simpler time of lending a hand to a neighbour in the knowledge that, at some time in the future, they’ll repay the favour. We’re not naive enough to think that this could ever translate fully into a business model, but for every helpful piece of content you produce, there is a new kind of consumer willing to fuel its journey through cyberspace.

Perhaps we should be looking not only at the dollar signs at the end of the equation, but at the likelihood that our content will be helpful enough to be shared.

 

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