In case you hadn't heard, "Content Marketing" is all the buzz these days. I'm not sure why all of a sudden there's been a collective enlightenment amongst marketing pundits that creating engaging content is a great way to attract customers. Hasn't this always been the case? Anyway, I'm not here to criticize; I'm hear to help.
Creating great content is easier said than done - Few companies have either the internal capacity or budget to produce a steady stream of blogs, videos, white-papers, infographics, case studies, podcasts, webinars, etc. Churning out an advertisement is often much more appealing since it doesn't take much time and can get a wide distribution through media. But, advertisements don't earn trust or at least not very much of it. If you want to earn trust, and cut through the clutter, you need to produce valuable content that informs and/or entertains. Below are a few resources I'm familiar with that can help even the smallest of marketing departments start developing content without breaking their back or the bank.
InfoGraphics - http://visual.ly/
A personal favorite of mine, Inforgraphics are graphically designed posters that illustrate data in an appealing way that makes statistics easy and fun to understand. You can have fun with infographics by simply making interesting data or market research come alive with cool artistic elements and graphic design. So if you want to create a custom infographic for some data your customers might find educational but don't have a graphic designer on staff or money to hire one then consider using a tool like visual.ly - It's a one stop shop where you pick a template, upload your data, publish, and share.
Articles & Whitepapers - http://www.skyword.com/
Most people can write but being a "writer" is a whole other level. It's like driving, most people can drive a vehicle well but very few can drive race cars well. Writing also takes a lot of time and one needs to really dedicate themselves to authoring valuable content that will inform or entertain. A good solution is to either hire a freelance writer to assist you or use a service like Skyword that supplies a whole team of writers and content creation resources to manage the process for you. They have solutions for small business, agencies, and big brands.
Having images in your marketing is a must and, in fact, research has shown articles, status updates, and tweets get more click-throughs and engagement when a photo is included. Besides the big names in stock photography like iStock and Shutterstock, there are some other more affordable resources you should consider. I recently came across Canva who has put together a large collection of 74 websites that offer free images for those that want to put them in their blogs or social media updates. Take things one step further and upload those photos to a site like http://memegenerator.net/ and create your own funny meme.
Video - http://animoto.com/
The spread of high speed internet and smartphones has made the consumption of online video explode; Canadians watch almost as much video online as they do on televisions. Creating cool videos is the dream of most marketers but it's also one of the most expensive types of content to produce. To that end I've been a fan of Animoto for some time - It's a super easy platform that adds effects, text, and music to a collection of your photos and videos to tell a story. If you are a bit more ambitious and like doing a bit of video editing but don't have budget for video editing software then consider using http://www.wevideo.com/ - It is a video editor in the cloud that lets you edit videos and add effects.
Ideas - http://thematboard.com/
Finally, it's no use creating content if you don't have any good ideas or inspiration to launch from. That's where a site like The Matboard comes in - Consider it like a Pinterest for Marketers, Creatives, and Designers. It's chock-a-block full of inspiring images, designs, videos, posters, ads, etc that you can be inspired by to create your own content. If you can't find something cool to be inspired by on the Matboard then I don't know if Marketing was the best career choice.
If you have any other cool content creation resources to share, please leave a comment below. I hope you find some value in the above resources and if you need help with your marketing we're always keen to warm up the waffle iron and cook up a batch of friendlies, Deep Dish style. Thanks for reading.