Content marketing is buzzword. It means that you are using content — usually journalistic content — for marketing purposes. What few people seem to understand is that content marketing can be understood in a different sense as well: marketing the content.
Marketing content used to be brochure texts, customer stories, games even. Almost always marketing content was supposed to be not only informative but also fun. It was, and still is, part of the marketing mix that also includes Public Relations and advertising. In the ten+ years that I have been involved with it, it specifically related to content that was supposed to help business customers buy a product that only business buyers will use. As in large printing presses, Digital Asset Management systems, scientific measurement devices, etc.
All of these products had one thing in common: you can’t and shouldn’t try to be funny about them. A printing press costing in excess of 100,000 Euros is serious business and the prospect wouldn’t appreciate a fun approach, not even if the entertainer doing it were John Cleese. Instead, these B2B customers expect information which they can use to decide whether they should buy the thing.
Content marketing is a different story. In essence it takes the B2B approach, but applies it to B2C marketing. What you’ll be doing is inform the customer of the advantages and disadvantages of your product. The latter is very important. It’s what makes content marketing, content marketing. If you leave out the objectivity of the equation, you’re just creating brochure content and most people don’t need yet another format for advertising.
Objectivity doesn’t mean you can’t stress the benefits of your product. It does mean you’re honest about it. If you feel you can’t be honest about it — e.g. because too many factors out of your control determine the user experience (you thought I was going to say “because it isn’t any good”, weren’t you?) — content marketing creates information “around” your product.
For example, if you’re selling solar panels, you can create content explaining about the technology, how it evolves, how customers can optimise their installation, etc., etc.
Content needs to be marketed too
What few people seem to understand is that this content needs to be marketed too. You need to promote it so it can be found. This can be done in many different ways these days. You can curate, use social media to distribute and microblogs to further expand the coverage. All of these “channels” need to have their own content created — not necessarily brand new stories for each channel, but certainly not duplicate content either.
The marketing of content takes time and effort. It is not a magical thing that brings success overnight, and really demands an ongoing effort, and is quite labour intensive.