What is Content Marketing?

 - September 28, 2012, 12:15 PM

If You’re Not Content Marketing, You’re Not Marketing

It goes by many names…let’s try to name them all. Custom publishing, custom media, customer media, customer publishing, member media, private media, branded content, corporate media, corporate publishing, corporate journalism and branded media.

This AIN Marketing Trends newsletter is content marketing – providing relevant information to our advertisers.

Perhaps nothing says it better than content marketing. But what exactly is content marketing?

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.

Basically, content marketing is the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling. It is non-interruption marketing. Instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent. The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty.

Joe Pullizi, president of Z Squared Media and author of Get Content Get Customers and Managing Content Marketing, was so fascinated with the power of content marketing that he founded the Content Marketing Institue in 2007.

“The stories we tell to attract and retain customers are now at the heart of all marketing,” said Pullizi. “Customers have all the tools they need to make their own decisions but content is critical to nurture leads and turn customers into subscribers. We now have the power to communicate directly with our customers.”

Content marketing is being used by some of the greatest marketing organizations in the world, including P&G, Microsoft, Cisco Systems and John Deere. It’s also developed and executed by small businesses and one-person shops around the globe. Why? Because it works.

Marketing Is Impossible Without Great Content

Go back and read the content marketing definition one more time, but this time remove the relevant and valuable. That’s the difference between content marketing and the other informational garbage you get from companies trying to sell you “stuff.” Companies send us information all the time - it’s just that most of the time it’s not very relevant or valuable (can you say spam?). That’s what makes content marketing so intriguing in today’s environment of thousands of marketing messages per person per day. Good content marketing makes a person stop… read… think… behave… differently.

“In order to create great content, you have to think like a publisher,” Pulizzi said. “What are the questions and problems that keep your customers up at night? Those are the type of stories that will keep you interesting. We have to remember that customers don’t care about us, our products or our services; they care about themselves.  You need to create content that solves their pain points. ”

According to the Roper Public Affairs, 70% say content marketing makes them feel closer to the sponsoring company, while 60% say that company content helps them make better product decisions. Think of this - what if your customer looked forward to receiving your marketing? What if when they received it, via print, email, website, they spent 15, 30, 45 minutes with it? (See all the latest content marketing research here.)

Yes, you really can create marketing that is anticipated and truly makes a connection. You can develop and execute “sales” messages that are needed, even requested, by your customers. Content marketing is a far cry from the interruption marketing we are bombarded with every minute of every day. Now that is marketing for the present and the future.

So where does a marketer get this relevant content and how do they distribute it to their prospect base? Marketers must provide information that proves useful so the users keep coming back for more.  Obviously social media is a great method for distributing good content to a targeted market, as well as print and website white papers, email analysis of industry issues, and step by step guidelines for industry procedures.

The key to a great content marketing program is to create great content.  Some marketing departments have hired writers just to create daily content and that’s always an option.  Another great way is to partner is a publisher whose job it is to create content.  AIN Publications offers many content marketing programs that utilize our award winning writers and editorial staff to create content for marketers.  Ask you representative about the many options available to you.

Content marketing is the hottest buzz word in marketing since banner ads in the early days of the web.  Yes, you need to be a part of this growing wave of thought leadership. 

AIN would like to help.