Marketing is an ongoing process that is always evolving with new techniques and best practices. As marine marketers, the idea of using content – stories, pictures, videos – is not entirely new to us. After all, boating is a highly visual and engaging recreation.
But the idea of developing a content marketing strategy takes your use of content a step further. It’s more than just posting a stream of pictures to Facebook, sharing a bunch of links on Twitter or shooting out an occasional press release.
So let’s take a deeper dive into content marketing and how to get started for your boating business.
What is Content Marketing?
You may have heard a lot of buzz about the latest and greatest marketing technique known as “Content Marketing”… but what exactly do we mean when we say content marketing?
Simply put, content marketing is about creating useful and relevant content to change or enhance your target customer’s behavior.
According to a basic definition by the Content Marketing Institute,
“Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”
It has become a popular trend in marketing because consumers are turning off traditional advertising methods like advertising, and they are therefore becoming less effective.
Content marketing focuses on “owning media” rather than renting it. You are not buying temporary ad space; you are creating or distributing relevant content.
As an industry, you can expect to see a lot of content marketing aimed at boaters. Discover Boating notes that content marketing will play a very important role in their marketing efforts to help to demonstrate boating’s value. Carl Blackwell recently outlined details to Boating Industry their extensive plans to develop more boating content throughout 2014 that increases and promotes the value of boating.
Ideas to Get Started with Content Marketing
Content marketing is relatively easy to do – it just takes a little bit of planning and dedication. And the good news is that any business or organization, large or small, has the ability to create content as part of an integrated marketing plan to attract and retain customers.
Here are some ideas to get you started with your content [marine] marketing strategy.
Start a blog. If you haven’t done so already, start a blog for your boating business now. This is one of the best ways to create new, ongoing content for your business.
Create a blog series. Having a blog for your marina or dealership is a great first step in a content marketing strategy, but you should think about ways you can expand on your blog. Maybe you can do a blog post series featuring customer stories? Perhaps a how-to informational series on prepping your boat for spring, or a new product showcase series that uncovers new and exciting boat accessories? Create a theme and post about a new topic or idea in that series over a period of time to lure in your customers.
Also consider branching out with your blogging efforts by guest blog posting on other sites that may reach your target audience. The bonus is that you can highlight these guest blog posts in your own content marketing efforts too.
Marine Marketing Tools contributor Dana Russikoff with SureShade highlights her best practice articles in SureShade’s monthly newsletter as a way to showcase value-add marketing content to dealers, while also further positioning herself as a thought leader for the industry.
Tap into user generated content. Discover Boating talks a lot about using content created by boaters – pictures, videos or boating stories – there’s a ton of great content being generated on the water every day. Encourage your customers to share them with you and use them in you content marketing efforts – such as social media or your customer newsletter. Your existing customers are often your best advocates – so use them to help you spread the word. And existing boaters or boating customers are the best way to get someone new into boating or becoming your boating customer.
Capture it in videos. Nothing demonstrates the boating experience better than video where you can actually show prospective boaters what it’s all about. According to Discover Boating, video has proven to be a very powerful medium for the industry with higher click through rates than average in their campaigns with video.
Make every event a video opportunity – from your marina day activities to regional boat shows or product demonstrations. With video capability on smartphones, video can be very easily created by your business or your customers. You can use video creation tools to create a professionally produced video, or simply use raw video footage without editing to showcase real life boating experiences.
Expand website content. Create value-add content for your website that helps tell your business story, gives customers information that helps them or showcases what is new and exciting. Make it easy for content to be shared from your website with social media sharing buttons.
Take advantage of free content from industry organizations like GrowBoating.org web content tools or the TakeMeFishing.org boating and fishing locator. Use an RSS feed to showcase the latest entries from your blog to keep your website content fresh.
Creating Content vs Curating Content
The idea of content marketing can be overwhelming – particularly if you have a limited marketing staff or funds. But content marketing doesn’t mean that you necessarily have to create all the content yourself.
The process of “curating content” involves actively seeking out other content sources to share in your content marketing efforts. In fact, sharing content from other content producers makes your content marketing effort more valuable to your target audience – it becomes more than just promotional content generation and sharing.
Curating content takes time and commitment too – but certainly less involved than creating content from scratch. To get started, follow or subscribe to relevant sources in the boating industry, your product niche or geographic area… anything that is relevant and interesting for your target audience. Then, share generously through social media. In return, these sources are also more likely to share your content generously too. Take it a step further by highlighting content in your customer newsletters or on your website with appropriate attribution (credit links) back to the sources.
Although content marketing should not necessarily replace your traditional advertising and direct marketing efforts, making it an important part of your integrated marketing efforts will help you build stronger connections with potential buyers.
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