Content Marketing: Your 401(k) Plan for the Future

Content marketing is not transactional. Rather it’s about building trust and relationships for the future. When you create content or develop a content marketing strategy, the goal is NOT to garner a quick sale or conversion. Instead, your objective should be relationship building.

The concept of building relationships through content doesn’t seem to resonate with many businesses, however. Over and over again, I keep hearing customers complain that content marketing is a waste. No one is buying their widget or filling out their call-to-action forms. Engagement is low and the traffic they are getting isn’t converting. That’s OK. Keep making the investment. Just like a 401(k) plan, I promise it will pay off in the end.

Invest in Your Future

You see, content marketing is an investment in your future. Just like a 401(k) plan, you invest a little each month (by creating and amplifying content). After a while, you build up a pretty nice savings (collection of content). And just like a pension, it continues to pay off even after your working life.

I can look back at content that I’ve done for other companies years ago and see that it still ranks well for specific keywords in the SERPs, still garners engagement in the form of Likes and comments and, most-likely, continues to direct traffic back to the customer. The investment in content continues to pay off.

However, I can also admit that it took some time for that content to rise to the top. By no means did we get a ton of traffic or engagement when we originally created the post. We also didn’t see an improvement with ranking in the SERPs immediately. Again, just like a 401(k) it takes time for our investment to build value.

Don't Expect Quick Results

Just because you create a piece of content, doesn’t mean you’ll see quick results in the form of increased traffic, engagement or conversions. As a matter of fact, if that’s your hope, you’ll need to re-evaluate your content marketing expectations because, more likely than not, you won’t see an immediate return (just like you don’t see immediate returns on your 401k; you may even see losses initially).

You can’t really expect someone to buy your widget just because you wrote a good article about the importance of your widget. If you want someone to buy your widget, you need to build a relationship with them. The unfortunate reality is that there are probably 5 other people out there making the same widget. Why would a consumer buy yours? Typically consumers buy products from brands that they trust. If you invest in building trust, chances are good that customers will recommend you to friends or family.

Invest in Value

So how does content marketing help build trusting relationships with customers? It works something like this. People are constantly looking for things that entertain, inspire, educate or inform them online. By creating content that suits those needs, you are offering your readers value. When you offer your readers valuable information, you begin to develop a trusting relationship with them. As you continue to nurture this relationship with additional content, the relationship grows and they begin following your brands and telling their friends about you. Now you’re building lasting relationships. In turn, you gain loyal customers who are more likely to convert once they enter a buying cycle.

The important thing to note is that we aren’t trying to sell these customers. Instead, we’re taking the time to build trust. Why? Because by building deep and lasting relationships with your customers you are investing in lifetime value.

No one invests in a 401(k) plan with the assumption that they'll get quick returns and the same should be true of your content marketing strategy.