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Content Marketing and the Quest for Value

Content marketing is not a new thing; it has been around as long as businesses have.  In the past it came in the form of pamphlets, brochures, direct mail, books or promotional packets.  Now, the demand for many of these items has diminished, but the need for fresh content is not.  Like most things, the move to digital has been especially effective when it comes to aggregating and collecting content.  In today’s information age, people want new content more than ever.

When I tell my clients that they should always consider some form of content marketing, many of them have no idea where to start.  Well, the logical start is figuring out what is content.  So, what is it?  Wikipedia tells me that content is “information and experiences that may provide value for an end-user/audience in specific contexts” and that it may be “delivered via any medium such as the internet, television, and audio CDs, as well as live events such as conferences and stage performances.”  The gist is – it is information that provides value. Content from a marketing perspective is information available to your customers in any conceivable format that provides value.

Value can have a number of different meanings as well – after all, does a funny cat photo provide value?  Sure, entertainment value is a perfectly valid experience, especially if it reflects on the brand producing that entertaining content.  The key is to figure out what information you have to share and applying it so that you provide value to your customers.

Here are some other examples of content marketing sources:

  • Blogs (posts, comments, conversation)
  • White papers and other informational documents (case studies, surveys, reports)
  • Press releases, news articles, and media
  • Webinars, online training or coursework
  • Podcasts
  • Forums
  • Slideshows
  • Video – tutorials, tours, entertainment
  • eLiterature – eBooks, eZines, eNewsletters
  • Memes

The most important take-away revolves around a single word, though. Value.  Content must provide value to your customers.  Content marketing is not direct advertising.

  • It is not a blog post about how fantastic your company is; it’s a blog post about using a special feature of your product.
  • It is not a video featuring your TV commercial; it’s a video tutorial answering a frequently asked question.
  • It is not a newsletter focusing on promotional material, it’s a newsletter article featuring information about your warehouse and giving customers a behind the scenes look at how you create your products.

The difference is in the value.  Once you have that value, engage your customers with a call to action that spurs them to share with others.  What content have you found to be particularly effective in your business?