Sunday, July 15, 2012

What is this 'content marketing' I keep hearing about?

"Content Marketing" seems to be the latest buzzword on the Modern Marketing scene.  Sure you can search on your favorite search engine and get 100s of thousands of page hits.  Ooops, I just searched 'content marketing' on Google and returned 1.1 billion pages!  I will attempt to qualify this term and will also offer some ideas and concepts to keep in mind about content marketing philosophy and strategy.

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If you ask any marketer today, "do you do content marketing?" I would guess that 90% would say, "yes, we do content marketing".  If you were to further ask about what that means, I would guess that 90% again would contend that writing a white paper or producing a webinar confirms they are doing the 'content marketing' thing.

Wrong.  CM is a way of marketing, a philosophy of marketing, a state of being in marketing.  Well, maybe state of being is a bit too existential, but I hope you get the point.  It's not just producing some content and posting it on your website. It's a mindset at the very least. 

When you think about content marketing, think about these aspects:
  1. Purpose.  The purpose of CM is to give to get.  You give information to the people who may (or may not) benefit from the value you hope to offer.  Ultimately, you hope the value you are offering associates with the wares you would ultimately like to sell and that the receiver of the content will associate value with your brand. In the end, you will exchange value for money or support or some other currency.
  2. It is not. Content is not information about your product or service.  It's not blather about features and benefits.  It's not about your particular technology.  It's not a comparison of your product and competitors products.  It's not a paper (disguised as the so called, white paper) about why  they should choose your product .
  3. It is.  Information about how they could be better at one aspect of their job or life.  A paper about the science behind a certain technology.  A tutorial about how to improve a technical skill.  An infographic summarizing a complex issue in a simple way.  A webinar about content marketing. A seminar about GMP regulations.  For example, a company that sells hygrometers might offer a paper or a webinar about how measurers of humidity (target customer) might improve their measurement practices.
  4. Why bother with content marketing?  Many Modern Marketers out there in the blogosphere may be asking this question.  Why should I give away all this free information that I or my firm spends so much money to acquire or develop?  The short answer is ENGAGEMENT.  Successful businesses are engaging early and often with an identified target group.  The firms that are able to offer value with no strings attached are establishing relationships with someone or some company well before that day of purchase arrives.  Helpful information will get you engagement.  Features, benefits and other ways companies wee-wee (we do this, we do that) all over themselves will not.
  5. TOMA.  Content marketing achieves Top of Mind Awareness.  TOMA means that when the day arrives (for a person or a company) when the person decides to make a purchase of the thing that you are offering, your brand is the first thing that comes to their mind and your brand has already established a certain level of credibility or trust, thanks to your comprehensive content marketing philosophy, strategy and state-of-mind.
Sure, you can gate the crap out of your content, or you can just give it away without requiring any type of registration.  You choose.  Which would you rather have;  52 people download your white paper because it's behind a form, or 520 people download your paper without collecting information.  Neither choice is necessarily the correct choice, but you need to ask and answer the question in the context of your particular situation. 

Successful businesses get this concept.  Do you?

Some good references:
Content Marketing Institute
Hanley Wood Marketing
Eloqua
Marketo