Over the past decade, content (the almighty  ruler of the marketing world) has groomed PR, advertising and social media professionals to bow down to its  great powers. Over the last five years specifically, creative agencies that have implemented effective content strategies have expanded their clients’ kingdoms and the results have been bountiful.   But just like any good ruler, content has had to change and evolve in order to fit the needs of the times.  And today, we’re seeing a high demand for content marketing, content networks and social media plans more than ever. As we head into 2014, it’s no secret that many marketers are heavily relying on content marketing as a critical component for year planning.

So what is content marketing and how do creative services professionals use it?  Simply put: content marketing is a technique that distributes relevant and informational content on behalf of a brand to attract target audiences and build credibility.  Sounds simple enough right? Well, not so fast.   In order to be effective in any type of marketing, the message must be engaging and result in customer action.  To do this, content should be designed to keep exclusive audiences interested while communicating the brand’s core values.  But first, lets talk about organizing a plan.


3 steps to take before embarking on a content marketing campaign:

  1. Identify the audience: The first step to great content creation is answering: who is going to read this?  By identifying the brand’s ideal audience, the content can then be shaped to answer any questions that they may have or appeal to their intrinsic value systems.  General content can be good, but tailored content designed to target a specific group is best when designing content for marketing purposes. *Bonus tip: Ask what type of content the audience is attracted to: Video? Lists? Informative articles? Quick tweets? Webinars? In order to ensure the content is widely accepted, it must be delivered on a medium most attractive to the audience.
  2. Identify the niche:  One of the most important things to remember when starting a content marketing campaign is that the piece of content should communicate the author’s expertise.  A true expert cannot be a jack of all trades and simultaneously be considered a guru.  Credibility is established when audiences feel as though the writer has something to say that appeals to their needs and interests.  By targeting a niche and diving deep, the content will naturally attract the eyeballs of potential clients and customers.
  3. Create a timeline:  Without a strategy and a proper editorial calendar, content can become stale.  Because content dominates the digital landscape, there are new articles, white papers, tweets and webinars distributed every day.  In order to remain competitive, the content marketing strategy must stay fresh throughout the year.  Before embarking on a content marketing campaign, sketch out 10-20 topics that will appeal to the niche audiences and time the content’s release in a strategic manner.

As the communications landscape continues to evolve, there will always be new tricks and tools designed to get information in front of consumers and connections to make the most impact.  In today’s fast paced and on-demand world, the only way to grab attention is by marketing products and services to the audience in a way that keeps them engaged, keeps them learning and wanting more. So is content marketing the hot strategy for 2014?  Not by itself.

I would argue that we’ve already been marketing through content over the past five years.  However, in 2014   fresh strategies that are thoughtful, interesting and cutting-edge will be mandatory in order to keep the masses buzzing.