What is content marketing?
Content marketing goes by many different names, such as:
- Educational marketing
- Info-first marketing
- Inbound marketing
- Demand generation marketing
- Article marketing
- Video marketing
- Thought leadership
…and many more. As you can see from the names, it basically refers to any type of educational content that you produce with the intent to inform (and sometimes entertain) your target market. By educating a target audience, they come to view you as a valid source of information about specific topics. Then, when they are ready to purchase a solution to a specific problem, you are top of mind to them for who to go to for that solution.
Content marketing is all around you. You probably interact it with it dozens of times of day, even if you don’t realize it.
You know that free podcast that you love so much? If it’s being produced by a company that offers a product or service, it’s being created as a content marketing tool.
That article you read after searching on Google for a comparison between two related software products? That review article is content marketing.
That free white paper you downloaded about trends in tax prep fees? That’s educational marketing content.
Content marketing is an umbrella term that encompasses many related areas of business development, both online and offline. For example:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a complex digital marketing subject, but the single most important component of SEO is having good content on your website. The Google Bot needs to see written content on your website in order for it to have something to index, so that your content then shows up in search results.
- Social media isn’t really all that special. It’s simply original content, created by the website or app users, that is available in a specific format and layout on a specific website or app. But it’s still “content”.
- Books are one of the oldest forms of marketing content. Ideas have been spread through the power of print since the first writing systems were developed some 5,000 years ago, and the invention of the printing press in 1440 revolutionized this content form. Today, books are used to educate, inform, entertain, spread ideas, and yes, even sell products and services.
- Broadcast media, such as radio and television, have carried marketing content since they were invented. For example, the term “soap opera” comes from the fact that daytime dramas used to be entirely sponsored by specific soap and detergent companies. People that were home during the day, watching these TV shows in the 50’s and 60’s, were entertained by these shows and would be influenced by the content to purchase said soaps and detergents.
Why should I care about content marketing?
We live in an era of consumer choice. For the first time in human history, technology has largely leveled the playing field for the general public in regards to their ability to make educated purchase decisions. Through the power of the Internet, people can obtain the information necessary to make apples-to-apples comparisons about services and service providers, in ways that were never possible before.
For example, several websites exist that allow homeowners to compare, by ZIP code, the average costs of various home repairs.
For commoditized products and services, from toilet paper to tax prep, numerous information sources exist for comparing prices and features.
The modern consumer is armed with this information at the push of a button or via a simple voice prompt.
In order for your business to not only survive, but actually thrive, in this environment, you need to be part of this consumer conversation. Prospective clients need to be able to find you, first of all. But beyond just showing up, you need to provide future clients with information that helps them assess your skills, expertise, and trustworthiness. Aside from just being visible, you need to provide prospective clients with a compelling reason to choose YOU over your competitors.
Marketing content is how you communicate those compelling reasons. Content is how you demonstrate expertise and capabilities.
What does modern content marketing look like?
Too be continued…