I’ll admit it, for years I avoided using the term “content marketing” in business situations. At the time, it seemed so new and intimidating, and I thought for sure it would require some certified trained expert to pull it off — after all, I was no social media guru :). I was just a guy who worked hard to understand the needs of my clients and their customers. I was sure that wasn’t enough to make the transition from “traditional” public relations and marketing to the latest buzzworthy ideas that had all of my marketing peers chirping.
Instead, I decided to leave content marketing to all of the so-called experts (you know the ones I’m talking about – the ones who are flooding spam filters with generic emails) and the LinkedIn groups where conversation starters begin with a sales pitch. I decided to sit back and focus on creating content that was valuable to my clients’ target audiences and look for different ways that we would potentially reach customers through trade publications, videos, newsletters, blogs and social media platforms. After all, delivering quality content that people are interested in consuming, using mediums that they engage with, has been effective throughout my career.
So, what’s the difference between content marketing and the “traditional” marketing that I have been doing for years? It turns out the answer is: “Not much.”
What is content marketing?
The Content Marketing Institute defines it like this:
This means that if you are doing any kind of marketing (brochures, newsletters, etc.) that informs and answers the questions that your customers might have, you’ve already doing content marketing. Many people only associate content marketing with online marketing efforts, but that’s simply not true. Many forms of content marketing exist, and the practice certainly pre-dates the Internet.
Now you know what it is, chances are you’ve been a content marketing expert your whole life and didn’t even know it.
Should you be doing content marketing?
Absolutely! If you’re not actively using content to market your products and services, then you don’t have a business. Now, whether you choose to call it "content marketing" is completely up to you.
Simple, right? Well, not exactly…
Content has to have a way of getting in front of the eyes of your audience, and that’s where things are less straightforward — how is the content to be distributed? How will you let people know the content is available? How do customers find your content through all content being distributed by your competitors? How do you know if the content is effective? How is the best way to measure results of a content marketing campaign?
Don’t worry, I won’t leave you hanging with all those questions and no answers. I’ll dive further into each of these areas, and more, soon. Stay tuned.