Content Marketing: The Oldest Trick in the Book

By now, we’ve all heard about the wonders of content marketing. How content is revolutionizing the world of digital marketing. Why you – dear marketers – must jump on board the content marketing wagon, for fear of being left behind, at best, or losing all your customers to your competitors, at worst.

And I agree with all of the above. What I don’t agree with, however, is the idea that content marketing, as a strategy for selling, is anything new. On the contrary, I believe content marketing has been around since man first put pen to paper, or charcoal bits to a cave wall.

Go ahead and Google some of those classic (albeit painfully politically incorrect) advertising images of yesteryear. No, really. Go Google them, right now, and have a look.

They’re gold. Pure gold. And they’re chock full of content. From the snake oil salesman to the seventies “feminine protection” ads, what you’re presented with are carefully crafted stories, snazzily spun snippets of life, masterful reflections on how YOU, dear consumer, are going to benefit from product X, Y or Zed.

They’re gold. Except for the whole ‘lying’ thing. I mean, I don’t know about you ladies, but no one’s getting me into white pants ever, least of all when…anyhow…you know where I’m going with this.

So, if content marketing isn’t new, then what’s the big friggin’ deal, right? Let me explain.

Today’s content marketing, while also about telling a story, is about telling an honest story. Today’s marketing is about trust.

And frankly, that whole ‘trust’ change didn’t come about because some big-brained marketer had a “Eureka!” moment. On the contrary, it happened much the same way the charcoal/cave wall communication shifted and morphed into pen to paper. Simply put, it’s evolution, baby.

In fact, the biggest ‘revolution’ when it comes to content marketing is how quickly that evolution occurred. Where charcoal to pen took tens of thousand of years, lies to trust occurred more or less overnight.

It’s only been 20 plus years since the Internet, digital media, social media, and advances in mobile technology took over our lives. But the pace at which consumers – heck, all of us – have evolved to adapt to this new way of life has been astounding. And scary, I might add, for old-school salesmen.

Today’s evolved customer – from your granny on down to your twelve year old – relies primarily on instantaneous word of mouth referrals – that trust thing again. People buy from those they trust.

While content is everywhere, attention spans are at an all time low. And that is exactly why content marketing works: Produce and distribute solid, shareable, quality content, and you will rise above the noise and be noticed. In fact, seven out of ten consumers say they prefer to learn about an organization through a series of articles, rather than a series of ads.

Content Marketing: The Oldest Trick in the Book image journal illustration wasting1Content Marketing: Are You Wasting Good Content?

Content marketing doesn’t push – it gently pulls – pulling customers to you, organically, because they are interested and curious about what you have to say. They rely on you for compelling, informative, engaging content – and are tuned in rather than tuned out.

And, unlike more traditional marketing tactics, excellent content is evergreen. It doesn’t expire, and, through search and social outreach, can deliver a return on investment months or even years after publication.

I read this quote somewhere – for the life of me I can’t remember where – but I think it beautifully sums up this new content marketing: “Plan like a business owner, execute like a marketer, and think like a journalist,” and soon you will be building deeper long term relationships with your customers and/or clients.

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