Content Marketing has existed in many forms for many decades. But, if you are a marketer, you likely only began to consider it a viable or even integral part of your arsenal in recent years. If you are a marketer who is not engaging in the practice of content marketing, you’d better devour this issue of Logic + Magic as content marketing must be at the heart of your future plans.
What is content marketing you ask?
The Content Marketing Institute offers this definition: “Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”
I will put it a bit more succinctly - Content marketing is the practice of generating and distributing kick-ass content for the purpose of generating revenue.
Kick-ass??? Too soon? Well, here’s the thing… Content marketing has taken the marketing world by storm. Everyone is doing it. Most are not doing it well. The fact that everyone is jumping on the bandwagon means your content has to be better than the rest. Generating content will not make your business successful. Generating GREAT content will.
I suggest that content marketing is the strategy, production and distribution of content for the sole purpose of building brand trust.
We want consumers to find, consume and engage with our content in order to build brand awareness and equity so that they will consider our brand when ready to make a purchase. This will drive sales if done correctly-it just should not be the primary objective.
In the digital age, we have called it many things – pull vs. push marketing, inbound vs. outbound marketing. At the core is the concept that engaging content is produced and distributed so that it may be found at certain stages of the purchase path.
Search engines changed the landscape forever when they essentially cataloged and made available any piece of content a searcher could want to find. And, digital allowed for a cost-effective means of content distribution.
The History of Content Marketing
Long before there were blogs, infographics and videos, brands were producing great content that drove revenue. While opinions differ, the example most hold up as the first in content marketing is "The Furrow, "a magazine first produced by John Deere in 1895.
Yep, no typo. That’s more than a century ago. Now available in more than 40 countries and published in more than a dozen languages, "The Furrow" still stands today as one of the premier resources for those interested in reading about the agricultural industry and John Deere products.
In 1904, Jell-O began to distribute free copies of their recipe book that generated more the $1 million in sales by featuring recipes for use with their own product.
In the 30’s P&G brought us the first soap operas with brands like Duz and Oxydol.
Play dream sequence audio and zoom ahead 80 years…
Mention “Will It Blend” in almost any circle of friends and you are certain to find folks who love and devour each new video the second it is posted to Blendtec’s YouTube channel or website – willitblend.com. From the new Apple Watch to a pool cue, Tom Dickson, the company’s CEO has been blending, well more like pulverizing products for many years. It started with a total investment of around $1,000 and was founded on an idea sparked by the crowds that would gather in the plant to watch blenders being tested by blending a small board.
However, the real question is, “Will It Sell?” And sell it did! Blendtec saw a 700 percent increase in sales as a result of the videos. Why? Because it is a great way to entertain while demonstrating that the product can blend anything!
Did all of those sales happen immediately after watching an entertaining video? Of course not. But, after repeated exposure to the brand and the product, Blendtec was the trusted brand and top of mind when the consumer was in need of a new blender.
Why is Content Marketing So Important?
Content marketing is so important because it begins to build a relationship between your business and your customer. When a relationship is formed and you’ve built trust with your brand, the likelihood that the person consuming your content buys your product or service increases substantially. You’ve provided value to them beyond just trying to sell them.
The best salesperson is the one that convinces you that you need their product or service and has you asking for it – not being forced upon you. You walk away from that sale not feeling like you’ve been sold, but rather that it was your idea to purchase from the beginning.
This is why content marketing works. Consumers don’t search for ads. They rarely search for brands. What they search for is useful and meaningful content that solves a problem, answers a question, educates and informs or flat-out entertains. This behavior is repeated over and over on a daily basis, and if your brand is providing that consumer the content they are looking for, you win. You build that relationship with them, and you become a resource for them so that when they are ready to make a purchase, you are their choice.