We’ve been talking to a new client involved in content generation, and I’ve realized as we were discussing content marketing that I don’t think I’ve ever really defined it here on the blog. Now’s as good a time as any.
Content marketing is a marketing technique of 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.
(from the Content Marketing Institute)
Content marketing is an umbrella term encompassing all marketing formats that involve the creation and sharing of content in order to engage current and potential consumer bases.
Publishing of marketing materials that aren’t “marketing materials.”
I think the last one gets to the heart of things, though I could be biased because I just penned it. Clearly, it’s not a sufficient explanation on its own, but once you have the background, the key concept to understand is that you are, quite simply, selling by not selling.
By offering your audience relevant, valuable content, you create the opportunity to attract their attention, gain their trust and engage them in a way that is more genuine than traditional marketing.
Ultimately, this makes it easier – and less expensive on a per-lead basis – to connect with your target audience and meet your marketing goals – lead generation, increase in customer base, increased lifetime customer value, etc.
Though it’s still thought of in terms of digital channels, content marketing is broader than that and includes speaking engagements, some kinds of direct mail and newsletters, and custom publishing. We’re also hearing it referred to as inbound marketing.
Content marketing drives content-intensive efforts like social media and search engine optimization, but those tools can be worked (poorly …) without a content marketing plan in place.