By this point, you have probably heard the term “content marketing” thrown around a lot.  What is all of the hype about? Why is it so important? We are going to help you demystify this hot topic and give some insights on how to get started.

What is content marketing and what is its purpose?

The Content Marketing Institute describes content marketing as “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.” By creating content, you are showing that you are an expert in your industry. You are validating your company while also helping your target audience learn something as well. By writing a blog or posting on social media channels, you are showing that you are knowledgeable in your industry. As people share your content, you will build brand awareness, attract a loyal reader base and generate leads.

According to Roper Public Affairs, 80% of business decision makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement. 70% say content marketing makes them feel closer to the sponsoring company, while 60% say that company content helps them make better product decisions.

Companies send out information all the time, but most of it is not very valuable or relevant. So instead of spamming your prospects with an unwanted sales pitch, content marketing gives your prospects information they want and value. Instead of bragging about how amazing your company is, content marketing demonstrates it by doing, rather than just saying.  This is not only effective, but it’s also logical.

Content marketing isn’t new

The core concept behind content marketing isn’t a new idea; in fact, smart companies have been “content marketing” for over one hundred years, they just haven’t been calling it that.

1895 – John Deere launched a magazine called “The Furrow,” which is still around today and is published worldwide for more than a million and a half farmers in 12 languages and in 40 countries.

1900 – Michelin developed a 400-page guide that helped drivers maintain their cars and find good lodging for road trips.

1904 – Jell-O created and distributed a free recipe book that contributed to more than $1 million in sales by 1906.

See where this is going? These companies understood that this type of brand storytelling is so much more appealing to your audience than simply pitching your products and services, and they are still around to prove it. At its core, content marketing is about providing customers and prospects alike, valuable, relevant and share-worthy information that informs, educates and keeps them connected and engaged with your brand.  Contrast that with most branded content out there that merely talks about features and benefits of products and services.

Content marketing is growing… fast

According to a global survey of more than 1,300 digital marketing professionals in August 2012, more than 90% believe that content marketing will become more important over the next 12 months. Many brand marketers agree that content marketing is key to creating an emotional connection with customers.

However, less than half of companies have dedicated budgets or individuals for content marketing. The top 3 barriers to effective content marketing are lack of human resources, lack of budget and company politics.

Dive into content marketing!  (strategically)

Having a strategy is crucial in content marketing. A strategy doesn’t have to be exhaustive to get started though. A content marketing strategy includes figuring out who you want to reach, what content you’ll create to engage your audience, how you will share your content and how you’ll measure success. We’ll be covering content marketing in much more detail in the coming weeks and months, so be sure to check back for more tips and ideas. If you need help navigating the waters, feel free to contact us!

Free eBook - An Introductory Guide to Content Marketing