Once upon a time, the Greeks created content, but it was known as lyric verse. The Egyptians created their content on papyrus while the Romans called content epic poems. Today, we lump all of these communication forms together under the guise of "content creation."

Exceptional oratory, poetry, music and art have defined kingdoms through the ages, but perhaps none have been defined by their content as much as in our current era. In fact, I wonder if Shakespeare was writing Richard III today, if the king wouldn't have cried, "My kingdom for some content!"

The reality is you can't be a successful brand today without having your own media channel that operates 24/7, which means you have a lot of programming to do.

And your viewers want it all: long-form content, short-form content, video, podcasts, social media--the list goes on in a never-ending cycle.

Since I work for startup and mid-size cleantech companies who have niche markets, inevitably someone from the company will ask me, "Why do we need to do all of this?" and "How do you calculate an ROI for all of the money we spend producing content?"

It's a question I enjoy answering because it gives me an opportunity to educate my clients on just why content is king. Here's what I tell them:

  1. Content Drives Your Brand. If brand awareness is the part of the iceberg people can see above the water line, your brand story is what keeps it afloat from below. If you want to keep it from melting away in a warming climate, your business needs to constantly refresh that story in novel ways that align with your brand. It's a generally accepted rule of thumb people need to see your marketing message seven times before they will take action--and those seven times can't be spread out over seven years because we live in a saturation bombed media landscape. Regular, exciting and informational content is the best way to achieve that goal.
  2. Who Defines Your Industry? When a company shares its brand story, the goal should be not only to increase brand awareness but to make its competitors define themselves based on criteria that are most advantageous to you. But if the company doesn't tell that story regularly and convincingly, the competition will try to move the definition to terrain more favorable to them, a result which ends up costing your company more money than it would have cost to own the key perceptions in the first place.
  3. Shared Values Breed Loyalty. By continuing to share your story on various channels like social media, it creates a sense of community, and in the long run, it's far cheaper to retain a customer than obtain a new one. Whether it's the pitter patter of infotainment on Facebook or an instructional video with someone from the company, content gives the audience a sense of the company's values and humanity--and that not only leads to loyalty, but it turns them into advocates for your brand.
  4. Cut Out The Middle Man. The beauty of the Internet is for the first time in human history, brands don't need an intermediary to deliver their message. By using tools like email marketing and social media, brands can share good news or respond to bad news without any filters with a community that already trusts it.
  5. Help Your Customers Find You. Google wants to help your customers find you because it makes it more likely people will continue to trust the search engine. By getting more eyeballs, Google can charge more for advertising, so it rewards brands that provide high quality and relevant content. Producing content with keywords aligns with Google's algorithms, which in turn, will push your brand closer to the top of search queries for the products the company sells.

So what's the real value of content marketing? Visibility, Loyalty, Positioning and Value Creation. Come to think of it, those are the exact things brands have always sought and paid for, but today the ROI is significantly higher because brands aren't limited to a 30-second commercial format. The key, though, is to provide enough engaging programming to keep the audience tuned in.

CleanTech Focus