5 things content marketing is NOT

It’s all the rage–all marketers have to be doing “content marketing” or they’re  just not going to be successful, right? I admit, I’m a big fan of content marketing, I’m even building a business around it. But I do believe that there is still a place for more traditional channels and I believe the traditional methods actually complement content marketing quite nicely. But that’s not what this post is about, this post is about getting to the bottom of what content marketing actually IS and what it most certainly is NOT.

As with any buzzy kind of marketing trend, the moniker “content marketing” is getting slapped on all kinds of marketing so people can feel they are doing the latest and greatest, without actually changing their strategy or methods.

I think Marketing Profs says it best:

 “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

The key points in this definition are about delivering valuable and relevant content to your audience. The whole idea is to give them information that (in the BTB world) helps them do their jobs better. And if, along the way, that helps them gain a better opinion of you as company, start a relationship with you and perhaps want to learn more about the stuff you actually sell, then you’re getting the right idea of how this all works.

So what is content marketing NOT?

1. It’s not new. Content marketing is the latest name for something savvy marketers have been doing for years. Bi-lined articles, newsletters and magazines are just a few ways this has been done in the past. The advent of the internet, blogging and social media have just made this process easier, cheaper and more far-reaching.

2. It’s not about you. Brochure is kind of a dirty word these days. It sounds dated and like it’s a long, involved paper thing that no one reads or cares about. What sounds new and fresh is an ebook. I’m seeing some companies make brochures and call them ebooks. So let’s set the record straight, an ebook should not be about your company or your product. You can skirt it a little by talking about your category in broad terms, but you shouldn’t be talking features/benefits. Your ebook or content piece should be educational and show your target market how much you know about their industry and the particular pain points they are suffering from.

3. It’s not just a pretty face. We’ve all seen the beautiful infographic or video that while gorgeous, leaves you feeling like what was that all about? Make sure you don’t forget the content part of your content marketing, it has to have substance that makes it “valuable and relevant” for your target market. Don’t forget, this is a strategic approach.

4. It’s not a one-way street. The whole idea behind content marketing, and particularly the kind that takes place on a blog and on social media, is that it’s a conversational media. It’s an ice breaker. It’s a “hey, we totally get you and what you’re going through” media. So keep it relational and encourage the two-way communication so you can create real connections with your audience. This is the fun part!

5. It’s not one and done. While you can eat out on a great piece for a while, you gotta keep the engine rolling. One piece doesn’t and shouldn’t speak to every pain your audience is dealing with. Ideally, you’re creating content for the different personas you sell to, you’re creating content that supports different stages of the sales cycle and you’re creating content that keeps your audience coming back for more. Sounds hard and it is. There’s a lot of marketing noise in the world and now more than ever it takes consistency and perseverance to stand out. Good thing content marketing is so much fun!

To get your content marketing program off the ground, start with strategy. Know your audience top to bottom and what they struggle with day-to-day. Evaluate where in the sales cycle you can support your sales team or attract new prospects with that valuable and relevant content and you’ll be off to the races. Just keep it up!

Photo by 10ch via Flckr Commons