I make a living running a content marketing business that I started almost two years ago. For our writers and myself, when asked about what we do for work, we’re often met with puzzled looks at the phrase “content marketing.” It’s unfortunate because content marketing can be a potent part of a marketing or brand strategy for any business. If someone told you they worked in content marketing, would you know what they were talking about?

Content marketing is a great tool and strategy for businesses to establish themselves in the eyes of their consumers. Content marketing is a broad term that encompasses all forms of media (especially online content) utilized to spread awareness and information to a target audience, with the aim of encouraging interaction and ultimately a customer action that yields a profit. In other words, as Robert Rose is quoted in this article, “Traditional marketing and advertising is telling the world you’re a rock star. Content Marketing is showing the world that you are one.”

Content Marketing gives you exposure unheard of in traditional methods.

Content marketing does its magic mostly through online platforms. To use content marketing, a business creates or utilizes its brand to form relationships with its customers, through as many effective channels as it can. Taking a monthly concept that you can focus on builds your brand, your reputation, and your relationships. It is through these relationships that you establish yourself in the consumer’s world as more than just a potential place to spend money. By focusing on a certain positive attribute about your business each month, your brand becomes a resource for the consumer, who eventually wants to engage with you.

Blogging is an important aspect of content marketing and brand presence. A blog that is well maintained, regularly updated, and provides interesting or useful information brings recognition and followers. A blog’s purpose in content marketing is to serve as a platform to initiate interaction. A business can write about anything related to its field. I mentioned a monthly focus above and this strategy can be repeated easily on a blog with a new focus each month. The trick is making it engaging and interesting for the reader, and avoiding the hard and obvious sell.

A blog encourages repeat visitors as well as followers. It can act as a way to encourage interaction on other platforms, too. At the very least, it shows you are an engaged business that cares about what you are doing for customers. Just like in life, you wouldn’t want to have a relationship with a boring slob who doesn’t care for his appearance or seems inactive.

Social media is a huge part of content marketing and grows by the day. Linking your content with social media and encouraging interaction lets consumers see you as more than just a business. Your brand’s perception can be improved with social media. A lot of businesses have had great success building their brands using services like Twitter to publicly handle problems or customer service so that both parties look good. Social media like Facebook and Google Plus can be used to make a more personal connection with consumers and potential customers. Interaction is immediate and your brand is on display to potentially millions of people, and that exposure is why content marketing gets results for your business and your brand.

Branding is important; it can take your business to the next level.

The key to all of this is to remain cognizant that the customer’s perception of your brand is immediate in content marketing, but it also builds over time. Building your customer base, brand, and revenues is content marketing’s purpose. Last summer I was interviewed by Mark Schaefer for his book ROI: Return on Influence. It’s a great starting point for anyone looking to establish their brand. I highly suggest it.

Unless you’ve got a talented marketing team on staff (really, what small business has that to work with!?) you’re going to need to learn a lot about content marketing. Or you can work with content marketing services to gain access to benefits you shouldn’t be missing out on. What have you got to lose?