I’ve given a presentation titled “Content Marketing 101: Back to the Basics” at several trade shows over the years—from TMC’s biannual ITEXPO convention to Content Boost’s recurring Content Marketing Crash Course to Small Business Expo. But I’ve never actually taken the time to blog about the topic—and it’s an important one to address.
A number of professionals come up short when trying to describe “content marketing.” Many understand the concept enough to know that content marketing is currently battling traditional marketing in the boxing ring, but the vast majority can’t explain why it’s become the go-to vehicle for marketers and why it’s necessary for their businesses.
But, now, with your competitors making sizeable gains from employing content marketing tactics, it’s time for all professionals to be able to define content marketing. Don’t believe that your competitors are all in with this avant-garde marketing approach? Then pay attention to the evidence: Seventy percent of B2B and 69 percent of B2C marketers are creating more content this year than they did one year ago, and 86 percent of B2B and 77 percent of B2C companies use content marketing today, according to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2015 benchmark studies.
So what exactly is content marketing?
At Content Boost, we define content marketing as an integrated marketing strategy that involves crafting and sharing relevant, customized copy to drive profitability and brand awareness. Allow me to draw your attention to a couple key words and phrases in this definition, the first being the word “integrated.”
At its core, content marketing is about marrying together complementary content marketing vehicles (more on that in a bit!) for maximum market impact. Whereas traditional marketing often meant that marketers put all their eggs in one basket—think billboard advertisements or radio commercials—content marketing is about finding several communications vehicles that play well together and utilizing them at once.
Another key part of the definition is the concept of “customized copy.” Today’s brands need to be storytellers and publishers, or successful at spreading the tale about their company, industry and core competencies. Today’s marketing content has to be highly original and quality-rich.
The final part of the definition that is important to note is the notion of “driving profitability.” Let’s face it, at the end of the day, we need to be able to show sizeable monetary and reputational gains when it comes to marketing spend and, fortunately, content marketing is directly linked to profitability.
Now that you understand the overarching definition of content marketing, let’s take a look at some of the chief vehicles you can employ:
- Blogging: Blogging may have first popped up several decades ago with the advent of online journals, but today blogging is alive and well in the corporate world. Today’s brands are clamoring for the chance to launch a blogging platform, a place where they can write about the latest industry happenings, weigh in on relevant market research and share exciting company news.
- Social Media: According to the aforementioned Content Marketing Institute data, 92 percent of B2B and 93 percent of B2C marketers leverage social media for business pursuits. Social networks like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are enabling brands to have a back-and-forth dialogue with their key demographic and it’s hard to dispute the power of the social stratosphere these days.
- Email Marketing: Quickly replacing direct mail, email marketing gives brands the ability to communicate instantly with their target market and, perhaps more importantly, gauge their audience’s brand interest by taking a look at statistics like email open rates, forwards and click through open rates.
There are countless other vehicles to use, including video, case studies, white papers and podcasting … the list goes on.
As you start to familiarize yourself even more with content marketing, keep in mind why content marketing matters:
- It fuels profitability: Forty-one percent of marketers confirm content marketing’s positive ROI.
- It drives brand awareness: Your logo and company name will now mean something to your industry.
- It fosters customer loyalty: Suddenly you will have multiple ways to stay connected to your target market.
Looking for more on content marketing? Then I encourage you to check out the following Content Boost resources: