Companies all over the world, large and small, have been bringing content marketing to the forefront of their marketing strategies — but not everyone really understands what content marketing is and what it’s about. If you’re looking to start in the world of content marketing, or if you’ve already been down this road but want to explore a better understanding, it’s best to really start at the beginning: What is content marketing, exactly
Definitions of Content Marketing
According to Wikipedia, content marketing is marketing “focused on creating, publishing, and distributing content for a targeted audience.” The Content Marketing Institute takes it a step farther: “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.” Both definitions have things in common that define what content marketing is and how it differs from other marketing and from content production.
● Creation: The content is created by the company, meaning it’s unique to that company and focused on things reflecting that company’s goals.
● Outreach: Both definitions include the act of sharing this unique content with a targeted audience, which has been defined by the company.
● Value: The second definition emphasizes that this content must be of value to the audience, such that they will regularly engage with it.
● Audience: Any marketing strategy exists to bring more business to the company, and content marketing has the same goal, but from a different direction. The ideal purpose of content marketing is to build a strong relationship with this audience, with the expectation that this positive relationship will drive increased revenue for the company.
Content marketing differs from other kinds of content production, in that it’s focusing on a specific audience and looking to provide specifically valuable information. Consider the kinds of emails that end up in our spam folders: advertisements for new sales or new deals, mentions of new products, and reminders to come browse the website.
This isn’t really content marketing, because it’s built to appeal to as many people as possible, and it isn’t offering anything new that a shopper wouldn’t be able to learn in a store. Now compare that to, say, a blog post shared by a clothing company discussing what’s in style for men this year, or what colors work best in a certain type of shirt. It’s value directed at a specific audience with the objective of building that positive relationship between the reader and the company.
What Content Marketing Means to a Layperson
So maybe you’re trying to explain to your grandmother what you do all day, as someone working with content marketing. A key way to make this click is to think about something your grandma enjoys and how content marketing might appeal to her.
For example, my grandmother enjoyed knitting, so I might describe an example of how a yarn company might provide free monthly patterns in a newsletter, including information on how much of their yarn you might need to make the pattern and where to buy it. It’s intangible content offered to educate and entertain the potential customer, and to build their loyalty; in this example, the company isn’t directly selling the yarn for this pattern, but they are making it very easy for my grandmother to go online or to a store and make a purchase from them, knowing exactly what she might need.
Another way to think about content marketing is to consider products that build a story to help drive consumer connection and sales. Toys like dolls, stuffed animals, and playthings often offer additional content available for children, including related books, videos, or games — this network builds up the initial item sold into something with more value to both child and parent. This kind of networked content marketing uses each existing part to build value for the other parts, which encourages customers to continue purchasing from that specific company.
Think back to the four points we discussed when defining content marketing. Both these examples are content created and distributed by the company, offering value to a specific audience, working on building a positive relationship rather than directly hawking sales. Content marketing is a step removed from direct marketing in this way, and focuses on providing value to the audience.
Other Parts of Content Marketing
Content marketing is part of an overall marketing strategy a company uses when it wants to change the way it interacts with its customers; it can’t stand alone. The strategy is developed over a few steps the company goes through in order to build successful content.
Identify the audience: Are you looking for new customers, or are you looking at retaining existing customers? What does your company specialize in, and how can you use that to provide value to a certain target market?
Identify the questions: People search for answers using Google, Amazon, and other search engines. Decide what questions you want your content to answer, and under what specific search tags and strings you want your content to show up. Build your content around these questions and searches.
Identify the value: What will make your content different than all the other content out there? It needs to be unique, valuable, and consistent enough that people will continue to engage with it. Connect your company’s strengths with your audience’s interests to make sure you’re providing maximum value.
Help with Content Writing
Strategy and creation of content marketing can be challenging. If you are ready to embark on a content marketing journey for your brand or business, consider entrusting this work to a dedicated team of experts. Contact Wordsmyth Creative Content Marketing today for help with all of your content marketing needs!