Consumers have shut off the traditional world of marketing. They own a DVR to skip television advertising, often ignore magazine advertising, and now have become so adept at online “surfing” that they can take in online information without a care for banners or buttons (making them irrelevant).
Smart marketers understand that traditional marketing is becoming less and less effective by the minute, and that there has to be a better way.
Enter content marketing.
But what exactly is content marketing?
Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.
Content marketing’s purpose is to attract and retain customers by consistently creating and curating relevant and valuable content with the intention of changing or enhancing consumer behavior. It is an ongoing process that is best integrated into your overall marketing strategy, and it focuses on owning media, not renting it.
Basically, content marketing is the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling. It is non-interruption marketing. Instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent. The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty.
And they do. Content marketing is being used by some of the greatest marketing organizations in the world, including P&G, Microsoft, Cisco Systems and John Deere. It’s also developed and executed by small businesses and one-person shops around the globe. Why? Because it works.
Content is the present – and future – of marketing
Go back and read the content marketing definition one more time, but this time remove the relevant and valuable. That’s the difference between content marketing and the other informational garbage you get from companies trying to sell you “stuff.” Companies send us information all the time – it’s just that most of the time it’s not very relevant or valuable (can you say spam?). That’s what makes content marketing so intriguing in today’s environment of thousands of marketing messages per person per day. Good content marketing makes a person stop…read… think… behave… differently.
Thought leaders and marketing experts from around the world, including the likes of Seth Godin and hundreds of the leading thinkers in marketing have concluded that content marketing isn’t just the future, it’s the present (see the video below on the history of content marketing).
Marketing is impossible without great content
Regardless of what type of marketing tactics you use, content marketing should be part of your process, not something separate. Quality content is part of all forms of marketing:
Social media marketing: Content marketing strategy comes before your social media strategy.
SEO: Search engines reward businesses that publish quality, consistent content.
PR: Successful PR strategies address issues readers care about, not their business.
PPC: For PPC to work, you need great content behind it.
Inbound marketing: Content is key to driving inbound traffic and leads.
Content strategy: Content strategy is part of most content marketing strategies.
According to the Roper Public Affairs, 80 percent of business decision makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement. Seventy percent say content marketing makes them feel closer to the sponsoring company, while 60 percent say that company content helps them make better product decisions. Think of this – what if your customers looked forward to receiving your marketing? What if when they received it, via print, email, website, they spent 15, 30, 45 minutes with it? (See all the latest content marketing research here.)
Intrigued? Do you buy in? If so, take the next step by reviewing the full resources of the Content Marketing Institute, which will answer just about every question you have about how content marketing can change your business, and your customers, for the better. Here are some ideas on how to dig in:
New to content marketing? Check out our getting started guide, where you’ll learn the definition of content marketing, as well as basic steps for putting a content marketing plan in place.
Need a content strategy? Read the CMI Content Marketing Framework, which outlines the seven essential building blocks for a successful content marketing program.
Looking for some content marketing examples? Download our Ultimate eBook: 100 Content Marketing Examples.
Are you in marketing leadership? Subscribe to our free magazine, Chief Content Officer, to stay on top of the latest industry trends.
Really want to learn a lot (while having fun)? Join us at Content Marketing World in Cleveland, Ohio. This is the largest gathering of content marketing professionals in the world (and 99 percent of past attendees say they would attend again).
Need advice specific to your organization? Contact our consulting group, led by strategist Robert Rose, to find out how they can help you meet your content marketing challenges.