The buzz phrase of the moment is “content marketing.” Well, it’s one of the buzzwords that we are seeing thrown around quite a bit, but just take a look at the Google Trends data for the phrase and how rapidly it has grown, and continues to grow, over the past year or two. Clearly something is happening. We’re all talking about it. But do we really understand what it is and how it works?

As we move forward in this world of content marketing, I think it might be good to take a step back and perhaps see if we are headed in the right direction, or if we have the right mindset necessary to engage in it effectively. If you’re considering jumping into the world of content marketing, this post will give you something to think about as you plan your strategy. You have a strategy, right?

And if you’re already doing some from of content marketing, this might be a bit of a reality check for you, to use as you evaluate what you’re already doing in order to do it better. Here are 7 things you need to know about content marketing:

It’s more than just blogging

While blogging is the form of content marketing I use most, it is much more than that. It also includes a variety of social media, as well as e-books, whitepapers, case studies, and any other type of content creation.

It’s more than just words

Again, most content marketing is made up of writing, but things like podcasts, videos, infographics, images, and more are also a form of content marketing. So don’t think that you need to be a writer in order to create some form of content for marketing purposes.

It’s more than marketing

In the same way that social media is much more than marketing, so too is content creation and distribution. It also is an important part of customer service/experience, communications, and more. It can be a function of not just the marketing department, but sales, HR, R&D, etc.

It’s not an isolated thing

Content marketing is a body of work made up of smaller individual pieces. When you go to an art exhibit, you don’t just look at one painting. You look at the full exhibit that has been curated to provide context. Each of the individual pieces might stand on their own, but together they tell a greater story about you and your business.

It’s not scatter shot

Content marketing is a commitment. It’s not piecemeal or random. One white paper or blog post does not a content marketing program make. Content marketing, particularly blogging, happens regularly and consistently over time. You must keep at it and continue to create good content for your audience.

It must have a purpose

Don’t blog, write, or create any other sort of content just because you can or because everyone else is doing it. Do it to educate your customers or communicate with them. Do it to drive traffic to your website. Do it for the purpose of lead generation and nurturing in sales. In fact, you might do it for some combination of the above, but whatever you do, have goals and a strategy that are measurable. Do it for a reason.

It’s probably something you are already doing

Even if you aren’t blogging or writing e-books, you are probably doing some form of content marketing. Tweeting and posting updates on Facebook are a form of content marketing, and are the seeds for starting a more robust content marketing plan. Additionally, your offline activities might include some forms of content marketing, such as brochures, fact sheets, and more. Those are items that all ripe for being repurposed into quality online content.

So what are you waiting for?

It’s not rocket science; your head is filled with content, you just need to get it out of your head and online. Set goals, create a strategy, and begin creating content.

What types of content marketing are you engage in, or would you like to do more often?

Photo credit: Plotting the Content Marketing Ensemble (AltimeterGroup)