Content Marketing is a concept that has generated a firestorm of interest on the internet, and from this writer’s perspective, with good reason. The “perfect storm” of web–based instant information access, the social media phenomena, and mobile technology, set against the deluge of in-your-face sales promotion coming from any number of directions, is creating a new and pervasive consumer mindset.
A new mindset that answers that intense selling with, “No thank you, I’ll look for the information I need myself and I will make my purchasing judgments of product and provider by what I find.” A simple statement perhaps, but one of great significance in its implication.
And that is, the old, established form of product advertising is becoming less and less effective and those businesses and organizations that continue to rely on that form of product sales advertising will experience an ever decreasing market share. Content Marketing is the concept that responds positively to this seismic shift in market environment.
What is Content Marketing?
The Content Marketing Institute definition:
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.
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.
– Content Marketing Institute web site
“Content marketing is non-promotional information that entertains and/or helps your prospects, customers and the public while supporting your purchase process.”
– Hedi Cohen, a well-known author of marketing information and advice
The key words here are “non-promotional information that entertains and/or helps“. Content Marketing is not advertising or other forms of promotion. It is providing useful information that builds an audience and respect for you and/or your brand.
A Good Example
Want to see a good example of this? Try David Santucci’s post on the Wilton Chamber Leads Group blog, just before Hurricane Irene hit, “Am I Covered?” In one paragraph David does a nice job of covering several important points about insurance coverage for a major storm such as the on-rushing Irene. And he did it without promoting his insurance product directly, but indirectly he helped himself and his business, as well as the people that read his post. And may I add, it was his initial stab at blog posting.
Content Marketing and Social Media
Content marketing and Social media are NOT one and the same, but there is a strong connection. It’s not quite like that old song, “Love and marriage, you can’t have one without the other”, but it’s not that far off.
“Creating stellar content for your marketing is great. But great content doesn’t (quite) distribute itself. It needs vehicles for people to pass it along, discuss its merits, argue over its controversies, blog it, mash it, tweet it and even scrape it. Which is, of course, where social media comes in.
Social media didn’t create content marketing, but it’s an unsurpassed tool for getting it distributed. On the flip side, great content gives social media life, by giving people something more interesting to talk about than what they’re ordering right now at Starbucks.”
– Sonia Simone, Content Marketing 101
One could say that Content Marketing and Social Media were joined at the hip and not be very wrong. But I don’t believe this is a “chicken or the egg” question. I believe that the content comes first and drives the choices of how to use Social Media, or any other form of communication.
Content Marketing and Small Business
So, if we assume a person with a small business buys into the concept of content marketing, (and that’s a big IF) how do they go about planning, developing and carrying out a strategy of content marketing?
That is what this blog is all about.
Stay tuned and weigh in with comments, suggests, questions, and criticisms at any time. They are more than welcome.