Discontent with content marketing is a malaise that we are all too familiar with. Mostly because most of us just don’t get it. Yet so long as we are comparing today’s content-driven techniques with yesteryear’s more straightforward approaches, we are likely to forever be lost in our misdiagnosed conundrums.
Today’s marketers have come to terms with traditional marketing becoming less effective by the minute. Consumers are ignoring the traditional world of marketing by adopting smart technologies that help them skip advertising altogether. If they are unarmed with technology, they choose another piece of ingenuity called the human mind to ignore outdoor, flip print, zap channels, and bet you that they are more likely to bungee-jump off an A380 in mid-flight – and survive – than ever click on a banner ad or button.
This kind of puts everything in perspective. So if the traditional approach is becoming irrelevant, is there a better way? If so, what exactly is content marketing? At the Content Marketing Institute, you will find all the reasons why we, the traditionalists, are doomed. The site defines content marketing as “a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”
It’s such a great definition. Except, I don’t entirely get it. Isn’t that what every great piece of communication aspires to be? Valuable, relevant and consistent? I guess the missing link here is ‘valuable’ in the sense that people want to voluntarily seek and consume your content because it’s worthy of their time and attention (and action). Valuable is the investment of time, energy and talent that traditional marketing has bankrupted to come across as intrusive, arrogant and worthless.
You might argue that all the variations of spam we produce do, in fact, offer value to our clearly defined audience. I’m pretty sure it does, too. But a better barometer ought to ask whether people would actually have paid to consume our content if we hadn’t provided it for free. At the end of the day, it is great content that fuels the best forms of content marketing and that can include a traditional 30-seconder. You might now be asking what, specifically, are these forms? For starters, if you want to consider great examples of content, just look at what you have lately paid to read, watch or listen to. It boils down to conveying valuable information, and the ways available to you to do that today are limitless.
Content marketing is not an end in itself, but an ongoing process that is best integrated into your broader brand strategy. It focuses on owning media, not renting it. As such, it can communicate with prospects for the long term, without the need to interrupt or push a sale. Inherent in this is the belief that by delivering valuable content, prospects will reward us with their time, loyalty and business.
Anyway, enough theory. So how do you offer value? Write a white paper (smart guys love smart guys). Develop an ebook (share the tricks of your trade). Design apps (help people navigate their lives). Speak publicly (TED Talks are sales pitches). Share presentations (make a subject cogent). Blog (are you an authority on something?). Design infographics (the best ones get shared). Invest in a webpage (become an open-resource in your area of specialisation). Like talking? Record podcasts (get visibility on iTunes). Or, shoot videos (with falling costs, high quality productions are easier than ever to deliver).
If you think about it, content marketing is an opportunity that is everywhere. The possibilities are endless. The trick is to own the channels that will lead you to your prospects and share what is valuable, in an invaluable way.