A simple definition of content marketing could be the creation and distribution of relevant, valuable, and just plain interesting content in an effort to facilitate opportunities to attract and communicate with customers. Unfortunately, many marketers have misinterpreted its meaning and their efforts are wasted on techniques and methods that simply don’t work.
Perhaps one of the best ways to understand content marketing is to express exactly what it is not. This kind of marketing is not, for example, the constant churning out blogs and articles and flooding the Internet with undirected words. Sure, technically speaking, blogs and articles can be considered “content,” but without careful targeting and useful application they cannot be thought of as “content marketing.”
Advertising copy also does not equal content marketing. Internet users are, by and large, extremely uninterested in marketing speak. The minute you try too hard to sell something is the minute most users will start looking for other options. And the minute you put redirect someone to an ad page or pop up an ad within the current page, you deserve a lot worse than annoyed customers.
Content marketing has a distinct advantage over traditional marketing: people are still open to interesting, valuable, and relevant content. Most of us have learned to immediately tune out most forms of advertising. Television commercials are quickly skipped over, billboards barely reach our notice, and banner blindness is an affliction that we develop early in our Internet-browsing lives.
Content works because it isn’t full of the shiny, happy people holding hands and telling us how much better their lives are for using [generic product X]. We don’t want to be told things. We want to discover things. Relevant and valuable content gives potential customers the chance to find out on their own if the company is going to provide a service or product they really need. Interesting content, on the other hand, will give potential customers a reason to want to interact with you.
How to Use Content Marketing
All of your content marketing efforts should be focused on integrating with trends in consumer behavior. It should not – repeat: not – be about trying to change behavior. All online marketing is about filling a need that already exists, not about trying to convince someone that it exists. Television commercials are all about spectacle and catchy phrases, and they are inherently about pushing potential customers toward a certain product or service. Content should be all about real communication and interaction that draws in the customers who are ready to buy, they just need a reason to buy from you.
Internet users are always looking for relevant, valuable, and interesting content. All you have to do is provide it. These potential customers are, in a way, asking for a sales message, even if they don’t want to be sold on anything. It’s a fine line to walk, but it is possible to educate without selling. If you can manage it – if you can increase customer knowledge without bringing out the shiny, happy people – you will see much better results than through traditional channels. You won’t have to sell a thing. You will just have to be there when the customer show up to buy everything.