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In case you couldn’t tell by the title, this is not an unbiased, fair-and-balanced article about content marketing.

That’s because I’m a total content marketing nerd.

Content marketing is awesomesauce.

Not because I said so.

Not because it’s flashy, cool, new, trendy or any other adjective.

Content marketing is simply brilliant because it works.

 

What is content marketing anyway?

At its core, content marketing is actually pretty simple:

Content marketing is creating and sharing content designed to attract and win an audience.

The form that your content takes can be almost anything. Articles, videos, pictures, infographics, white papers, e-books, slide-decks, guides, templates … Like I said, almost anything.

While the hype around content marketing is relatively new, the practice itself is old.

As in old-as-dirt old. As in 120 years old.

The most commonly cited ‘earliest example’ is the John Deere magazine, The Furrow, published in 1895. The history of examples just grows from there.

 

What’s the point of content marketing?

There are three major reasons to use content marketing:

  1. Get people to know, like and trust your brand.
  2. Attract and retain customers.
  3. Drive profitable customer action (such as registrations, enquiries or sales).

The whole point of content marketing is to offer something of value that engages prospects and customers, driving them to do something positive with your brand. That might be liking you more. That might be engaging with you in the early stages of a buying decision. Or it might be the tipping point that gets them fully hooked on just how awesome you and your offerings are.

 

Is content marketing really just advertising?

The answer to the question of what’s content marketing and what isn’t boils down to one word: value.

Content is what you seek out. Advertising is what gets shoved in your face.

Essentially, content marketing campaigns should produce something that people want to consume. That’s not to say advertising cannot be content as well – the very best advertising is both an ad and content marketing. In the world of video, this is becoming increasingly common with high-production commercials being shared on YouTube so people can go and watch them again.

No matter the delivery format, however, content should be:

If what you are making can be accessed by anyone for free, will be valuable to your target market, is relevant to your business, is something you’ve created (or given your own spin to) and is helping move people down the marketing funnel to a sale point for your business, it’s content marketing.

 

How do I get started with content marketing?

Content marketing is still marketing, and like all marketing, it needs to be guided by a strategy to make sure it is creating the results you are after. Developing and refining a content strategy tailored to your business takes thought and time, but there are two fundamental components that everyone should keep in mind:

  1. All content is designed for a clearly defined target audience
  2. Each piece of content is created to achieve a specific outcome

In other words, make sure every piece of content you make is designed for your target market and is designed to get them to do something specific. Don’t get sucked into the trap of making a video in the hopes ‘it will go viral’ or creating an infographic because ‘some people might think it’s cool’. The most basic way to check if the idea is good content marketing is to ask yourself two questions:

Will my target market find it valuable?

and

Is there a good business reason for me to offer it?

If you can answer ‘yes’ to both those questions, then it’s probably a pretty good content marketing option for you.

Once you’ve identified an idea that should work, make it a reality!

And then go get out a bowl of chips.

So you can eat up all the delicious, wonderful awesomesauce.

You’re going to love it.

Image by Mike Mozart on Flickr (CC by 2.0)

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