Once upon a time, the answer to the question, “what is content marketing?,” was very different from what it is now. Content marketing meant placing ads in magazines, sending out direct mail flyers, beefing up your independent sales force, erecting billboards all over town, and counting your ROIs as they came flooding into your office.
Today, print is all but dead (no matter what some marketers say), a great sales staff is difficult to come by, and the Internet has taken the place of the physical spaces where our audiences are spending time and energy. As the world gets smaller, marketing evolves, and the challenge is to remain ahead of the game.
The best marketers are the trendsetters. Not those who are looking for a clear set of guidelines in answer to the “what is content marketing question,” but the ones who are so good that they know just how to break the rules in order to make an impact. These are the folks we learn from, who ultimately make the world better to do business in, and who are the true innovators of modern society. My kinda people.
What is content marketing?—The back to school version.
Content marketing, modern business’ version of the ancient scribe, is not a new phenomenon. B-Schools have been teaching copywriting and content creation for as long as marketing has been a part of business. Even from the very beginning of modern civilization, the ancient Greeks and Romans crafted messages to promote themselves in creative and persuasive language (philosophers have always looked down their noses at rhetoricians, but that never made them any less effective). Humans have always been interested in recording and publishing information that is helpful, necessary, and true.
These days, content marketing is done online more than anywhere else, as the web is the most cost-effective way to reach the broadest audiences possible. So, enter content marketers. This is not a new profession of course, but these days, it’s being done in a whole new manner, and for a host of different reasons.
What is content marketing?—And why do we need it?
The world (maybe human thought?) has become more concise and therefore its media has become more concise. For a while, journalists were pushed aside in favor of lesser quality, only slightly more readable information that suited and accommodated a generation unable to read more than 100 words without flaking out—thanks, social media.
Sure, it is a great challenge for a writer to create content in an attempt to pack potentially hundreds of ideas into less than 100 words, but the writer’s mindset is to tell the story, share what’s important, and promote a complete image of information to as many as possible.
However, these witty, persuasive trendsetters and strong-holders of the business world could not be harnessed for long. And, yeah, the fact that Google favors longer blog posts hasn’t hurt the cause either. Back in style is the trendy concept of quality writing and a sincere attempt to make the world smarter, not less cognitively capable than a fly at paying attention. And so, in comes the rebranding of the creator of content that is valuable for its readers and its potential clients.
Today, we call them content marketers.
Go ahead, do a google search for something you are considering investing in and scan the list of websites for the content that you like the best. The most attractive, intelligent and unique websites are the ones that grab your attention. They are aesthetically pleasing. They are written as if just for your eyes to consume. They speak your language and are pleasant to absorb. There are helpful links and images to illustrate the points being made, even if the links take you away from the content. But you probably stay on the page longer because it is well organized and quality information.
Guaranteed there was a content marketer at work behind this experience to create a website that makes you want to buy a new widget or hire for a needed service. So, “what is content marketing?” That. That is content marketing.
And fascinatingly enough, it is the words alone that grab you—not necessarily the product or service itself—but the words that describe what it is that a company does well. Content marketing is better than a sales force because it has no agenda other than to simply showcase the company exactly as it hopes to be seen. Plus, it’s open all the time. It always says the right thing. And it never talks back.
Content marketing. Genius. But how many companies have not gone down this road?
Certainly there are still a good number of companies that really do not need to market due to the unique nature of their business. Companies that rely heavily on word of mouth and are in the envious position of having more business than they can already handle may not choose to do any marketing at all.
But perhaps these are the very companies that should be willing to offer the world more of their expertise through means of content marketing and aid in the cultivation of intelligent humans that actually have the attention span of a human rather than a gnat. Okay, maybe that’s a pipe dream…but…
For content marketing to be as groovy as it undoubtedly is, everybody who’s anybody in any industry has to have a solid web presence to gain market share and reputation on a broader scale. Sure, maybe there are some companies that already believe themselves to be beyond their own verbiage, but there are plenty of folks who are so present with the riding of the edges of their seats handling their business’s day-to-day, that there is no time for sitting down to write about the awesomeness of the organization, or the CEO, or the floor staff, or whomever.
What is content marketing?—For small business.
Here’s when the outsourced, content marketing PhD goddess queen steps in (eh, hem).
Here’s the deal: every business that is successful knows the answer to the what is content marketing question. Every successful business has a story to tell and knows how important it is to get that story right. Content marketing specialists are the ones who are ready, willing, and able to help whether that means turning technical language into conversational content, following the CEO around for a week and being the scribe of best practices, or simply whipping up a clickable blog post.
Great content marketing is about getting to know your business really well and then writing about it:
- What you do.
- Where you are.
- Your best practices.
- How you’ve gotten to this place you occupy.
- Your products and services and why they’re so great.
Most importantly, content marketing shows how and why your business is a trendsetter and an industry leader.
You don’t have to have employees or a ton of clients to be an industry leader. You just have to have a story to tell. And anyone who operates a successful business has something special to say.
So what is content marketing for you? Well, where there is success, there is a story. Journalism is coming back into business through intelligent crafting of a message that has no need for spin, but wants to discuss ways to add to the overall well of quality information that is available.
And the best part is that you don’t even have to leave your seat. Content marketing is a trending and growing profession for freelancers, professionals and agencies alike. There are hundreds of quirky awesome writers just waiting to be commissioned to write your story and promote it as it should be promoted.
If you’ve got a great business, if you’re a trendsetter, if you’ve got a story to tell, then tell your story! If you don’t know where to start, give me a call and we can start the process. I’ve got a thing for telling stories and I’d love to help you tell yours.
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