For decades, brands have used content to attract and retain customers. For example, in 1904,Jell-O tasked salesmen with going door-to-door, handing out their free cookbook. As a result, Jell-O saw a $1 million increase in sales by 1906.
However, marketing has changed a lot since then. While the principles of effective content marketing and adding value to the life of your consumer may still hold true, the way in which brands are investing in the format in today’s new connection economy have drastically changed. What started out as a tactic that a few brands added to their social media efforts has become a mainstream marketing approach that 90% of brands implemented in 2012.
With “content marketing” as the hottest buzzword in marketing, we decided it might be helpful to take a step back and create a comprehensive definition of the topic.
As with any new trend, creating a helpful definition for content marketing can be done by answering three important questions:
What is it?
In short, content marketing is about using content to move people to an action that can be measured and translated into achieving a goal or objective.
Content Marketing is a conversation with an identified audience. It’s a commitment to consistent, relevant copy that doesn’t ask me to buy something. While content marketing can take various formats (blog, eBook, webinar, podcast, Google+ Hangout, whitepaper, infograph), for something to be defined as “content marketing” it must be grounded in the idea that people would rather discover you first.
Where did it come from?
What most people define as “content marketing” today was formed from a shift in buying cycles and developed through a rise in search engine optimization. Consumers changed from being primarily influenced by outbound, interruptive marketing to inbound, search-driven marketing in which they find brands before brands find them.
Content marketing is essentially the next wave of search engine optimization.
Why should I care?
The primary reason content marketing matters for brands is because consumers are no longer obligated to listen to you. In a world where we create as much content in two days as we did from the beginning of time through 2003, it’s time to rethink your content strategy to focus on building trust, getting permission, and earning the right to influence others.
By understanding that content marketing is the new normal when it comes to connecting with your audience and realizing that it has single-handedly changed the way consumers find brands, it’s evident that this marketing tactic is worth exploring.
If you had to define content marketing by answering one of these questions, what would you say?