Content marketing is a phrase you might not have heard of this time last year, yet it is now deemed to be one of the most effective online marketing techniques in a marketing manager’s tool box and is set to explode in 2012. As the hype around it continues to increase, many companies will no doubt be wondering what it’s all about, how it works and why they should be doing it. If you’re one of them (and believe me you’re not alone) then this 5-part guide is for you.

Each day this week, we will address the what, why, how, where and when of content marketing but, instead of just taking our word for it, we’ve enlisted some of the industry’s finest to help us out. The 5-part guide will run as follows:

Monday: ‘What is content marketing?’ by me @RedRocketMedia

Tuesday: ‘Why you need to be doing content marketing’ by Jeff Bullas @jeffbullas

Wednesday: ‘How to address content marketing’ by Joe Pulizzi @juntajoe

Thursday: ‘Where to do content marketing’ by Ann Handley @MarketingProfs

Friday: ‘When to do content marketing’ by Lee Odden @leeodden

WHAT is content marketing?

So, I’m kicking off proceedings with the often asked ‘what is content marketing?’ question. Let’s start with the formal definition, given by the Content Marketing Institute:

“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.”

Content marketing provides your audience with commercially-neutral information which is educational, tells a story and provides a solution to their problems. Unlike traditional marketing such as press releases or brochure copy, it is not self-promotional and, therefore, may seem a rather alien way of communicating with your prospects and customers.

The illustration below shows the various types of content required by your prospects and customers as they move through the buying cycle. Due to the masses of information available on the internet, they are now able to do their own research online which means they generally aren’t ready to engage with your sales people for the first 75% of the buying cycle. In that first 75%, they don’t want to be sold to, they want to be educated: they are looking for solutions, not providers. Content marketing allows you to effectively connect with those prospects whilst they are in that crucial phase of the buying cycle.

Isn’t content marketing the same as copy writing?

No, copy writing is self-promotional ie. your company sales brochure or a press release about a new product you are launching. As with content marketing, it plays a vital role in your marketing communications, however it generally isn’t effective until the latter stages of the buying cycle when your prospects are starting to research suppliers.

content marketing v copy writing


Let’s demonstrate some of these using a leisure centre as an example:

Industry/topic related news: daily news articles about the latest fitness trends to hit the industry or up and coming sporting events.

Evergreen articles: longer articles once or twice a month such as ‘how to train for a marathon’ or ‘5 tips to get fit for summer’. Or they might publish ‘healthy eating’ recipes.

White papers: once a quarter they might bring together their evergreen articles to create a valuable resource document.

Videos: a short video of one of their fitness instructors demonstrating the basic moves of Zumba.

So we’ve clarified the ‘WHAT’, now you’re thinking….WHY on earth would I want to do that?


Check in tomorrow for part 2 of our content marketing guide where Jeff Bullas explains why content marketing should be top of your priority list in 2012.