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Content Marketing: What Is It and Should You Do It?

By Suzy DeLine

A friend in the marketing profession came home from work and said she’d had a full day session on content marketing… but dismissed it as just another buzzwordy trend. On the one hand, I understood. To some degree, content marketing is, well, marketing! Which is to say, understanding what your customers need, how you can help them and communicating effectively.

But why is there buzz around content marketing? There is a reason for this. How can you use these trends to market your product or service? First, I’ll share the definitions put forward by the Content Marketing Association (which has 150,000 members and grows double digits year over year).

Content Marketing – Formal Definition

Content marketing is the marketing and business process for 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.

A content marketing strategy leverages multiple story channels (print, online, in-person, mobile, social, etc.), can be employed at any and all stages of the buying process, from attention-oriented strategies to retention and loyalty strategies, and include multiple buying groups.

Content Marketing – Less Formal Definition

Content marketing is owning, as opposed to renting, media. It’s a marketing process to attract and retain customers by consistently creating and curating content in order to change or enhance a consumer behavior.

Content Marketing – Elevator Pitch

Traditional marketing and advertising entail telling the world you’re a rock star. Content marketing is showing the world that you are one.

Commonly Asked Questions

Q: Is content marketing the same as inbound marketing?

A: No, but I can see why you’d ask. Inbound marketing does depend upon content but has a different focus. Inbound marketing content strives to be relevant and useful but focuses on being searchable. See a fuller discussion here.

Q: Is content marketing the same as marketing automation?

A: Again, similar but no. Marketing automation success depends upon great content but is primarily an approach using specialized tools that help systematically engage with customers during their journey. See a great detailed answer here.

Top 3 Reasons I Recommend Developing a Coherent Content Marketing Strategy

1. Laser focus on WHY ARE YOU RELEVANT to your customers. What need can you fix better than their current solution or other solutions they may consider? You have to thoughtfully answer that for content marketing to begin. Too many marketing campaigns begin with clever concepts but don’t answer that simple question.

2. Laser focus on multi-channel delivery and using best practices in INTEGRATED CAMPAIGN development and monitoring. Practicing content marketing will often help marketers realize the tools available for them to create, deploy and monitor content performance… freeing them from the cost and delay of having an outside party doing it from them.

3. Laser focus on SHOWING vs. telling. People are doing research online and will want and need more information, of different media, of different level of details. Step up and provide it!

In my case, I came to content marketing because I am a storyteller. (Theater degree, stage director, with an MBA on the side!) It’s very satisfying to share what your company is good at. It’s very satisfying to challenge your team to define their value. It’s very satisfying to see the connection as people read and share what you’ve crafted or enjoy and comment on the videos and podcasts you’ve shepherded into being.

In short, content marketing brings you back to marketing basics but leverages all the latest technology and techniques. Why wouldn’t you?

Suzy DeLine

About Suzy DeLine

Suzy DeLine is a digital marketing consultant specializing in both inbound and content marketing. She is a huge marketing geek and gets very excited when she sees things being done well, or innovative stuff being tried out. (She also loves beagles.) She hails from a Wisconsin dairy farm by way of Northwestern University (go Wildcats).

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