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  • Writer's pictureCarolyn

What is Content Marketing?

Quite a few of my conversations with clients and contacts recently have featured content marketing. Despite being almost 200 years old, it’s still misunderstood and so I’ve created a short series of posts to help.

We'll walk through the benefits and potential pitfalls of content marketing, look at some examples of it in use, and I'll share my advice on how to implement content marketing successfully in your business.

In this first post, we’ll cover what content marketing is, and isn’t. Enjoy!

What is content marketing?

Have you ever watched a ‘how to’ video on YouTube from a brand? Listened to a podcast where an expert has given their advice? Read a blog post (just like this one!) on a topic? Then, whether you realised it or not, you’ve consumed some content marketing.

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.

But put simply, content marketing involves creating and sharing valuable, relevant, and interesting written, video or graphic content across one or several channels.

Rather than traditional sales-focused advertising (“buy now!), with content marketing you give helpful information to your audience for free.

Why should I care?

We live in a noisy world, and research suggests that people are becoming so used to traditional advertising tactics that they either purposely ignore them, or don't even absorb the information in the ad. Content marketing provides an alternative, which is designed to cut through advertising noise and be better received by the target audience.

What do you mean by content?

Content marketing can be created and shared in a number of ways. For example, you could:

  • Write a blog post

  • Create a video

  • Design an infographic

  • Write an e-book

  • Record a podcast

  • Go live on social media.

The only criteria is that your content should be interesting, engaging, relevant and valuable for your audience.

It might be helpful to think about potential content in terms of three types:

  • Hero - high-level, attention-grabbing content that summarises a big topic

  • Help - detailed 'how to' content which answers a specific question

  • Hub - relationship building content for your existing audience that keeps them coming back.

A woman films herself sitting at a desk using a laptop

Photo by Jodie Cook on Unsplash

What content marketing isn’t

Content marketing isn’t traditional advertising. It isn’t a hard sell, so if your content includes anything like “buy now”, “sign up here” or “contact us for a quote” you’re on the wrong track. Instead put yourself in your audience’s shoes and think about what they would like to see, hear or read. Content marketing should be more like a newspaper article than a paid ad.

Examples of great content marketing

  • A great example of "hub" content marketing by a big company is Spotify Wrapped - if you’re a Spotify user you’ll be familiar with the end of year round up of your most listened to songs. Spotify creates this based on data the company already holds, but every year users look out for their personalised report, and many share it online and talk about it with friends. It’s great because it is designed to create lots of engagement and discussion - ie. lots of value for users - which costs relatively little.

  • For a small business "help" example, check out East Coast Dog Training - lots of helpful, free, content on getting a puppy or adopting a rescue dog which shows the trainer’s skills, builds credibility and helps to promote the paid-for dog training services. Similarly to Spotify, it’s the value for users that is important.

How do I start?

Like all marketing, content works best as part of a proper strategy, with defined objectives and audience research.

In the next article in this Content Marketing series, I’ll talk about the benefits of content marketing for your business, and what you need to do to put content into action!

If you can't wait until then, get in touch to discuss how I can support your content marketing efforts and help grow your business.

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