What is Content Marketing?
What is Content Marketing? That’s the number one question I get asked since I started That Content Guy. So here’s my attempt to demystify it.
First, let define what Content Marketing is. Here’s a definition from one of the world’s leading authorities in Content Marketing, Content Marketing Institute.
Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
Sound easy, but to the less informed, that might be too much of a handful, let’s just break down the definition further to gain a better understanding.
Content Marketing is a Strategic Marketing Approach
Notice that here, Content Marketing is a strategic approach and not a tactical one. In other words, It is all about playing the long game. You need to see beyond just short-term numbers and look at long-term results.
Because I play the long game, Mr. Castle. You see, when I’m finally let out of this cage… it won’t be to wage war. It will be to win one.
-Wilson Fisk, Marvel’s Daredevil.
The Focus is on CREATING and DISTRIBUTING
It is a given that with Content Marketing or any forms of Marketing, you need to create content, but many tend to overlook the importance of “Distribution”. Here’s a simple breakdown of the term “Content Marketing”.
Content: Create Content
Marketing: Distribute the Content
Content Marketing: Creating and Distributing Content
In my personal experience, I have seen brands invest a substantial budget into content development, but the investment for distribution tends to fall short and vice-versa, some are willing to spend a substantial amount in content distribution but tend to stinge on the content development front. As a rule of thumb, the content development and distribution budget must always be proportionate.
It cost Marvel Studios US$220 million to develop The Avengers, and despite the fact that it was already a highly anticipated movie with hordes of fans dying to watch it in theatres, Marvel Studios did not leave anything to chance; they invested in an additional US$100 million to promote the movie.
Valuable, Relevant, & Consistent Content
At this stage you might be thinking, if content marketing is about creating and distributing content, isn’t that the same as other forms of marketing?
Here’s the part where Content Marketing is significantly different. It is not just about creating and distributing any type of content but content that is Valuable, Relevant, and Consistent. Let’s look at each of the keywords.
Valuable: According to dictionary.com; valuable is defined “of considerable use, service, or importance”. When it comes to content marketing, you’ll need to switch to a different mindset.
The question usually asked in traditional marketing is “How many units can I sell with this piece of content.” When it comes to content marketing, the question you should be asking is: Is this content, of use, of service or of importance to my intended target audience?
Relevant: Beyond just targeting the right target audience, the content also needs to be of relevance. In short, is the content pushed out at the right stage of the customer journey?
For example, if you are pushing out a piece of content to someone who has not heard about your content; you might want to go on a softer angle, something more subtle. i.e., no strings attached. If you are pushing out content to someone who already knows your brand, you can afford to be more upfront.
Like courtship and dating, you don’t go about asking someone to marry you on the first date. Instead, you go through a period of courtship before popping the critical question.
Consistent: As mentioned earlier, Content Marketing is about playing the long game, and the key to winning is consistency. When it comes to consistency, we don’t just look at frequency but the quality of content as well. So in short, successful content marketing involves the production of quality content at a consistent rate.
To Attract and Retain a Clearly Defined Audience
Everything that we’ve discussed earlier all boils down to this point, to attract and retain a clearly defined audience.
Similar to a courtship; to attract someone, you need to be attractive, and you’ll need to put in a lot of effort to maintain a relationship.
Very importantly, you’ll also need to find the right partner. In content marketing terms, to ensure content effectiveness, the content must cater to a clearly defined audience. To do that, you can try creating buyer personas.
Ultimately, to Drive Profitable Customer Action.
Many believe that there is no return on Investment (ROI) in Content Marketing, but that is in fact, untrue. The ultimate goal in content marketing as defined by Content Marketing Institute is to drive profitable customer action. And notice here, we are not just talking about profits but profitable customer action.
Sales figures aside, profitable customer action can mean many other things, from things like loyalty, recognition, and authority to more quantifiable metrics like email subscription, social engagements to qualified leads.