Content Marketing is often a misunderstood aspect of online marketing. Mentioning it to someone as a strategy may be met with the response “Well, isn’t it just marketing?” or “We’ve got stuff on our website so we’ve got that covered”. One of the earliest things I can remember hearing about ‘content’ in the digital age, was that it didn’t actually matter. These were the thoughts of someone who believed that getting consumers to click on the “buy” button on an ad was the ultimate goal. Saying something like that to a marketer today would surely result in getting the “Excuse me, what?” look.
This is because more businesses today have realised the value of content marketing as part of their overall sale or online success. However, even though more businesses acknowledge that content marketing is important, not many people understand what it actually means and how to make it work for them. Is it advertising? Is it a blog?
“Content is anything that adds value to the reader’s life.” Avinash Kaushik, Google
Content Marketing is a method of marketing that involves the creation and sharing of valuable content with the aim of attracting, attaining and engaging a particular target audience – with end result being profitable customer action (ROI). It differs quite a bit from traditional marketing/advertising and can hardly be boxed into one small online package.
So we know what content marketing is (or isn’t) and why it’s valuable, the question now is: Why isn’t it working? One crucial reason why content marketing seems like the untamed beast for so many businesses and marketers is the fact that they don’t have an effective enough Content Marketing Strategy.
“Content without strategy is just ‘stuff’.” – Joe Pulizzi, Content Marketing Institute founder
An international study on B2B marketing found that 93% of marketers used content marketing in 2013. Only 42% thought they this strategy was effective. Of those who were most effective saw measurable success, 66% had a content strategy and 86% had someone who oversaw it. A content marketing strategy is a more business-driven, user-focused process of planning, defining and managing content in order to meet your specified goals over a longer period of time.
Consider Joe Pulizzi’s words, that without a strategy, content is just “stuff”. You have a collection of “stuff” and you’re just putting “stuff” in “places” without a clear plan. I’ll even go further and say that it’s a bit like deciding that you will build a house, grabbing whatever building material you can find, placing it all on your patch of land and then hoping it will turn into something inhabitable. Without a plan, proper tools, quality material and a team of skilled professionals dedicated to the project, that’s unlikely to happen.
Strategy is the “Why” and “How” to your “What”. It is an important aspect of any campaign, product launch, upcoming event or any effort to create brand awareness. It helps you to define your goals, define your brand and define your audience, not just with quantity, but quality. Now that we’ve deciphered that content marketing without a content marketing strategy can prove to be ineffective, we’ll get into the anatomy of an effective content marketing strategy… in my next post.