Content marketing is one of the hottest topics in the business world these days with companies of all sizes trying to figure out how to create and use content to build their brands and their revenues. In Part 1 of my new series, Content Marketing for Building Brands, you’ll learn what content marketing is and why it’s important to brands. Later in the series, you’ll learn how to create content and use market research to increase the success of your content marketing initiatives.
What is Content Marketing?
Before you can create a content marketing plan, you need to understand what content marketing is. In Content Marketing for Dummies, I define content marketing as follows:
“Content marketing encompasses all forms of content that add value to consumers, thereby directly or indirectly promoting a business, brand, products, or services. Content marketing occurs both online and offline, but the free and simple tools of the social web have opened up the ability for companies of all sizes to compete alongside one another, not for market share, but for share of voice and influence.”
It’s also important to understand that while content marketing and social media marketing are often used interchangeably, they are two different things. Content marketing is more informational and is the catalyst to social media marketing. In other words, a blog post, a YouTube video, a Facebook update, and a Twitter post could all be forms of content marketing because they each can offer some form of information that can spark discussions and sharing. The conversations and sharing that happen based on that content are forms of social media marketing.
Therefore, a Facebook update or Twitter post could be a form of social media marketing, too, which is why the terms can get confusing. Don’t get hung up on semantics. Your goals should be to create useful and meaningful content for your target audience and joining in conversations and sharing content that is useful and meaningful for your target audience.
How Does Content Marketing Help Brands?
Content marketing enables companies to tell their own stories. It gives them control of creating the stories and publishing information that their target audiences want and need, which in turn, enables them to build relationships with those audiences that can lead to brand trial, repeat purchases, loyalty, and advocacy.
Content marketing also helps to keep a brand top-of-mind. By continually publishing useful content, brands stay in front of consumers and reserve a “space” in consumers’ minds. If the content the brand publishes is consistent with the brand promise and not entirely self-serving, consumers will welcome it. However, once that content becomes overly self-promotional and does little more than clutter consumers’ lives and online experiences, the content will compete against a brand’s growth goals.
Content must be customer-centric or there is little reason for people to read it, watch it, or listen to it. In my article about the top 50 brands in content marketing, I discussed three brands that are doing great things in content marketing — American Express, Whole Foods, and Kraft Foods. Take a look at that article to see three companies that create useful, customer-centric content and learn from their success models. The goal is to move from traditional, interruption marketing to engagement marketing through content.
Most importantly, remember that great content can come from a variety of sources both internally and externally. American Express leverages the expertise and influence of business experts to create content for the AmEx Open Forum. The CEO of Whole Foods writes a blog to offer thought leadership. Kraft publishes its own recipes and recipes contributed by consumers across the web and the world.
In other words, as long as you’re creating useful, customer-centric content, you’re on the right track to content marketing success. Stay tuned to Part 2 of the Content Marketing for Building Brands series where you’ll learn about researching content ideas and creating content.
Image: Dusan Kitic