Content marketing – what is it?

Social media have introduced a wide range of new terminology into the vocabulary of marketers. One of the most commonly seen of these is content marketing.

Sounds pretty special, doesn’t it? Perhaps even somewhat frightening for many a technical marketer—new terms, the meaning of which may be a little unclear, have been emerging at a dizzying rate within the past couple of years.

Content marketing, however, is actually good old stuff in a new package.

Let’s think about the time before social media. Companies published monthly newsletters, customer magazines and case studies on paper and sent them to their customers and potential customers by post. The objective was to convince the target audience of the company’s expertise, problem-solving capabilities and a product or service offering befitting the customer’s needs.

What else was this than content marketing?

Now, in the electronic age, this content has for the most part been transferred into the internet, but the objective still remains the same. The only difference is that search possibilities on the net are infinitely better than in the paper age—in the old days, someone had to remember that this-and-that company’s this-and-that customer magazine talked about an interesting issue, but today anything can be found by just typing in a few well-chosen search words.

In the paper age, the problem was often that companies couldn’t think of anything interesting to tell about themselves. Marketers were too close to their company and its products to find topics that would have a wider “interest value”. I remember well how many times I suggested that a client of mine should open up some sort of a regular information channel toward its potential customers, but the idea seldom met with success. “Too much trouble.” “We have nothing of interest to say.” And so on. This attitude is still very much in evidence in the internet age.

Fortunately, content marketing is many times easier in these days. Electronic means of communication, however, won’t save you from finding the stories first. (Sales pitch: You might consider hiring someone from the outside to do the digging…)

The truth, however, still is that every company has success stories: how their solutions helped customers achieve success, lower costs, do their work more easily. When you raise the customer into the position of the hero in the story instead of gloating over how excellent your company is, it is a wonder if another potential customer in the same line of business isn’t interested in listening. I’ve previously written about this aspect in my blog post B2Bs need an attitude shift: become a B4B.

Can you see the forest from the trees? What great achievements does your company have that could be interesting for the customers you want? How has your company helped its customers do business faster, better, more profitably? Look for these stories. Write stories about them, or have them written for you. Publish on the net.

Surprise: you will find yourself an expert content marketer.

2 thoughts on “Content marketing – what is it?

  1. well I guess its really about just taking the time out to put something out there for people to read that they may find interesting on your site

    • Exactly, Joe. But the main problem for many companies is that before they can put something out there (that’s the easy part) they first have to determine what their audience might find interesting (the hard part).

      That’s what I’m trying to change. Even if the production, operating and R&D people might not see the STORIES their work generates, the marketing folks should be able to snoop them out. I’m constantly amazed at how few companies really do this. Marketing, wake up!

      If in-house resources are insufficient, there’s always the possibility to hire someone from the outside. I’m sure the benefits of telling the stories will far outweigh the cost of a freelancer, for example.

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