What is Content Marketing?

I read an article on the Content Marketing Institute’s blog the other day that talked about the confusion between content marketing and social media marketing. As Toby explained, social media marketing is one of the tactics of content marketing, not CM itself. The article got me thinking about CM, and how it can be confusing to people. Especially because it goes by so many different names: branded media, corporate media, corporate marketing, etc.

It’s also come under fire a lot, but I think it’s because it has so many names and so many tactics. People think that it’s bad because they’re hearing marketers talk about it e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e. Chris Penn summed up why it’s been maligned lately in a post on his blog.

The problem that marketers are running into is one of resource constraints. – Chris Penn

And I totally agree with Chris here. Marketers are running into resource constraints, whether it’s a constraint on their idea generation for the content, or a constraint on the writers themselves. The point is, there’s a problem in the content that’s being generated, so you think there’s a problem with the tactic.

It’s not that content marketing is bad, it’s that GOOD content marketing is hard to do. You see bad content, bad information, and bad writing, so you think that it’s the marketing tactic that’s to blame.

I’m here to tell you that you’re WRONG!

You’re not tired of content marketing, you’re tired of POOR QUALITY content marketing. Whether it’s bad topics, horrendous writing, illogical use of punctuation or illustrations, it all adds up to fatigue.

Don’t worry. GOOD content marketing is NOT dead, and that when used properly, it can ratchet up your business significantly.

But it has to be done right.

So let’s start back at the beginning and get things started off on the right foot.

What is Content Marketing?

The Content Marketing Institute defines it as:

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.

Basically you’re talking about your products and services in such a way that people don’t realize you’re talking about your products and services. You’re delivering information to them ninja-like so they don’t even realize it.

These days we’re constantly bombarded by information, so when you offer valuable information to readers, they’re more likely to stop, read, and act on it. If you’ve got a DVR, you know exactly what I’m talking about. You tend to zip past all the ads nowadays, so it’s harder to get you to stop and watch. Remember those Tasters Choice coffee ads from the late 80′s-early 90′s? Those were great because they were 30-second stories. They were a series of about 4 or 5 ads, and you wanted to know what happened next, right? The coffee was almost incidental to the ad. But 20 years later, I’m still talking about it. THAT’s good content marketing. ( Here’s a link to one of them. Just search for them and you’ll find them all.)

What does CM Look Like?

Content Marketing takes many forms, including:

  • Social media
  • Articles on your website
  • eNewsletters
  • Blogs
  • Case studies
  • Videos
  • Articles on other websites

Both CMI and Marketo noticed a difference in the number of tactics used by companies, mainly based on the size of the companies. The bigger the company, the more tactics they used. The smallest number of tactics was 6, the most was 23.

According to the 2013 CMI B2B Content Marketing Report, 91% of B2B marketers are using content marketing to grow their business, yet they only dedicate 33% of their marketing budget to content marketing.

Should My Business Use CM?

The top two industries with the highest adoption rates were the Professional Services and Technology/Software industries. Possibly because the users/readers are also high consumers of CM, perhaps they’re also aware of how much they should produce as well.

In my opinion, all businesses should use content marketing, since you’re probably already using a few of the tactics in your marketing efforts. If you can produce quality content over a number of those tactics to move towards your goals, why not? You produce a quality product, so couple it with quality marketing.

Not Yet Convinced to Use CM?

  • Do you want to increase your brand awareness?
  • Get new customers?
  • Find new leads?
  • Retain the customers you already have?
  • Be seen as the thought leader in your industry?

Then content marketing is for you.

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