content marketing

Sometimes we communicators are sticklers for grammar and usage. When someone says he just published a new blog, for example, we really hope he doesn’t mean a new “blog post.”

Don’t even get me started on “lie” and “lay.”

But there’s an even bigger transgression I’m seeing more and more these days: an apparent confusion between the terms “content marketing” and “any old content related to marketing.”

For the record, here’s the definition I like to use for content marketing:

Content marketing is the consistent creation, curation and publication of relevant, valuable material that attracts and engages a clearly defined audience.
It must have an objective.
It is not sales-y.

Why do people lump all the content they’ve ever written about their product, including brochures and sales sheets, into the bucket known as “content marketing”? This just confuses the issue. I have to believe they truly don’t know what content marketing is, and they’ve just latched on to what they believe is a “trend.”

For the sake of clarity, perhaps some examples will help.

If you’re a lumber company, your video about how to build a birdhouse is content marketing. On the other hand, your video about how your pressure-treated wood is better than Company X’s wood is content, not content marketing, because it’s about you.

If you are a professional podcast producer, your blog post about how to choose a microphone is an example of content marketing. A post about your own podcasting production services is content, not content marketing.

If you’re a writing coach, your workshop about how to write a best-selling book is content marketing. A workshop about your coaching services for writers is not content marketing. (Yes, I’ve been invited to many “workshops” that are merely vehicles for a sales pitch; spare me.)

Some people seem to object to the very idea of content marketing. “Why should I publish anything that won’t immediately lead to sales?” they ask.

Well, I believe content marketing can be an important part of your communications because it can:

  • Help demonstrate your thinking and your approach to business.
  • Build your brand around a library of great content (text, audio, video, infographics, etc.).
  • Encourage others to spread your content; people share great content.
  • Cultivate thought leadership within your niche or industry.
  • Improve your search engine optimization around the keywords at the centre of your publishing efforts.
  • Ultimately generate leads.

Overall, content marketing is like a magnet drawing prospects to you.

Do you agree with my assessment of content marketing?

For more on this topic, check out my free report on content marketing. (Yep, that’s content marketing.)