In the online marketing world, competition is fierce. No matter what industry you’re in or how long you’ve been in business, I can almost guarantee that one of your competitors is making enormous strides when it comes to promoting their brand to online audiences. Are they using content marketing? Paid advertising? Social media? Do they have a ton of followers? An amazing website? A solid brand known in the industry?
To an extent, it doesn’t matter, because you can catch up to them — or even beat them — with your own content marketing strategy.
The Advantages of Content Marketing
Why does content marketing hold the power to give you a competitive edge, more than any other strategy? These key advantages:
· Minimal investment. Theoretically, you can start a content marketing strategy with almost no initial monetary investment (by doing the work yourself). Even when hiring an agency, content marketing is still a highly affordable strategy, making it easily accessible to almost any brand.
· Visibility and authority benefits. Content marketing lends itself to achieving more visibility and more authority, both of which can help you get a leg-up on any competitor in your niche.
· SEO and inbound traffic. Using content as an arm of your SEO strategy, you’ll be able to earn higher search rankings — the magic here is that it usually only takes one rank higher than your competitor to start diverting some of their inbound traffic for a given keyword.
· Conversion and retention. With better content, you’ll earn higher conversion rates than your competitors, and buyers will be more loyal to your brand.
· Long-term benefits. Content marketing is a strategy that pays off over time. The more time and effort you invest in it, the more value it’s going to hold for your brand.
Now that you know why content marketing holds such potential, you can start learning the following five specific strategies that will allow you to tap into it as a competitive force:
1. Know Who You’re Dealing With
Before you do anything, you have to know exactly who (or what) you’re dealing with. Take a moment, before your campaign ever launches, to do a thorough review of your competition and what types of strategies they’re implementing. Simple Google searches and social media observations can help you enormously here; how often are they posting new content? What type of content are they posting? Do people seem to like it? What you want to watch for here are key approaches, strengths, and weaknesses. Don’t waste effort trying to match their strengths or copy their approaches — instead, learn from them, and identify opportunities to exploit their weaknesses.
2. Differentiate Yourself
Find a way to differentiate yourself from the competition, on a general level. If you try to do what they’re doing, you’re going to come up short — they’ve been doing it far longer, and you aren’t going to stand out if you merely try and replicate it. Instead, look for key ways to differentiate yourself. Can you target a different segment of your shared demographics? Can you utilize a different approach, or leverage the power of different content mediums?
3. Offer More
Next, you’ll need to offer more than what your competitors are — primarily in terms of quality, but a little extra quantity wouldn’t hurt either. Do more research to ground your posts, include more embedded multimedia, beat them to the punch with news topics, and offer more comprehensive guides on your most important subject material. It might take a while, but eventually your shared customer base will notice a difference, and gradually, you’ll earn more traffic (and more brand-loyal customers, too). Everything you do should be better, in some way, than what your competitors are doing.
4. Find Niches
Keyword research and market research can help you identify key niches that you can exploit in your content marketing campaign. Keyword research, for example, will help you learn exactly what types of phrases your competitors are ranking for, and what promising opportunities they’re missing. You can then use targeted blog posts to optimize for these ranking opportunities, and poach some of their organic search traffic. You can also find niches by determining what types of content your shared audience wants to read and comparing that to the type of content your competitors are producing. You may find they’re completely neglecting a key audience demand, or else aren’t addressing one effectively.
5. Broaden Your Reach
Content marketing is popular, at least in part, because of its connective ties with so many other strategies. It’s a major contributor to your SEO efforts (and was even hailed as the “new SEO” by Neil Patel in October 2012), it provides fuel for your social media campaigns, it can fuel email newsletters, provide incentives for opt-ins and signups, and be utilized for hundreds of other purposes. If you get creative here, you’ll have a major competitive advantage; while your competitors are using content marketing in conventional ways, you’ll be earning even higher ROI from every post you produce simply because you’re applying it in more diverse areas.
No matter where you are, from a competitive standpoint, content marketing can help you overcome your marketing opposition, and the sooner you get started with it, the better. There’s a slight difference between angling content marketing as a competitive approach and using the strategy organically, but ultimately, both approaches are similar. Eventually, you’ll build up enough authority that you’ll become the dominant competitor in the market, and all you’ll have to do is stay on your toes to ensure you stay that way.