Another Blog Answering
‘What is Content Marketing?’
The great marketing minds of today have long stressed the importance of content marketing, and encouraged businesses and brands to invest more time and resources developing effective content marketing strategies.
Countless books, articles and blogs have been written which describe the importance of content marketing. At this point, there’s not much new that can be said on the subject.
So this blog won’t try.
Instead, I’m describing content marketing, in my own words.
If you’re already well-aware of content marketing, there’s not much new here for you. But if this is the first time you’ve heard the term, let me be the first to try and explain.
For a more detailed explanation, simply Google “content marketing,” and you’ll have enough reading material to fill a very long weekend.
So let’s begin.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is the creation, and sharing, of interesting, relevant and valuable content, given away for free to potential customers.
Or described another way,
“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
This branch of digital marketing is the art of selling, without selling. The purpose is not about asking potential customers to make a purchasing decision, or telling them to “Call Now!” Instead, the goal is to reach new audiences, cultivate the potential lead, and build brand loyalty, through the delivery of free and valuable content.
Though the phrase, “content marketing” is relatively new, the concept has been around for quite a while.
Take a look at this video from the Content Marketing Institute to learn about its history.
What is Content?
Content can be almost anything a business or brand creates and shares, that provides some perceived value.
Common digital examples include:
- Online Videos
- Case Studies
- Landing Pages
Content is everywhere. It’s on every website, social media page and search engine result page. Content is what you’ll find on YouTube, in your inbox and within every mobile app.
What separates content from content marketing is that it is created, or curated, and shared, with value in mind. Give something away for free, and in return, gain a potential customer’s brand loyalty, contact info or positive impression.
What’s the Purpose of Content Marking?
The purpose of content marketing is to grow brand awareness and loyalty through the sharing of valuable content, to generate leads and hopefully gain repeat business.
The customer experience has changed. Customers are now more informed, conduct their own research, and don’t need to be told why they should buy. Today’s business buyers do not contact suppliers directly until 57 percent of the purchase process is complete.
Content marketing is about providing value to a potential customer, so that they can become aware of, or feel positively about, a business or brand, and keep it mind when it’s time to make a purchase. By giving away value for free, potential customers don’t’ feel like they are being “sold.”
People hate advertising. People love good content marketing.
What isn’t Content Marketing?
Content marketing is not the sharing of sales-focused materials, which often attempts to “sell” potential customers on the business’s product, service or brand.
In truth, content is everything from a tweet and newsletter, to a business card and a coupon. But content marketing asks for nothing in return. Or if it does, it’s only after something of value has been provided first.
The idea of “value” is what separates content from content marketing. Without value, content is just another sales pitch. Value must be provided, first;
“Otherwise, what you end up with is a brochure, but you just call it content marketing.”
– Jay Baer, President of Convince & Convert.
How Does Content Marketing Work?
Through the creation of strategically targeted content, and sharing it on digital channels, potential customers can find valuable information and be introduced to, or nurtured by, businesses and brands.
Simply put, content marketing works by giving away something of value, for free. After a person receives this free valuable content, they are more likely to take an action, provide personal information, or remember the business or brand when it’s time to make a purchase.
By creating and sharing this content across digital channels, a business or brand can be discovered by potential customers; and these potential customers can also share this content with their friends, family or colleagues.
Content marketing encourages loyalty and word-of-mouth marketing, to create brand ambassadors.
Why is Content Marketing Important?
All current online forms of marketing rely on content marketing to reach and find customers. Content is what is viewed online, shared by people, and used to communicate with potential customers.
“Content marketing is dead because now it is simply marketing.”
Content marketing is what allows a business or brand be found online, connect with potential customers, and build loyalty.
People have become very good at ignoring advertisements, because they’re intrusive and pushy; their purpose is to convince people to spend their money or time. Content marketing, however, is a passive strategy, which provides free value, in exchange for the possibility of loyalty in the future.
Content marketing is more about branding and generating leads than making a sale. Gone are the days when a business or brand could simply pay to capture people’s attention.
Audiences no longer want their attention bought. They want it to be earned.