What is Content Marketing?
Content Marketing is a technique of getting clients by giving away information they value through your website and other online platforms. There is a lot in that sentence so I'm going to unpack it below.
I'm not sure who will ready this, but forgive me if I take a moment to define what marketing is. The wikipedia article is pretty cool, so I'll link to it here: Wikipedia on Marketing. For the sake of this article, let's say marketing is the thing that converts a total stranger into someone worth a salesperson's time. In a nutshell:
Salespeople Get Paid to Close Leads
Marketers Get Paid to Generate Leads That Close
Now Back to Content Marketing
So, if marketing is generating leads that close, content marketing is using content (information) to generate leads that close.
It's worth pointing out that content marketing is not entirely new, but it has completely exploded through the growth of the Internet, social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and the overall awesomeness of Google. Let's begin by discussing the overall awesomeness of Google. Flawed though it may be, Google is truly awesome.
Google is at the Heart of All Content Marketing
Google innovated a way to make the Internet relevant to every single human being on the planet (see In the Plex). They created a way that anyone could ask the internet for what she wants and the internet would deliver it in milliseconds. What's even better is that the way you ask and they way you receive an answer is remarkably intuitive. This innovation meant that consumers could get information about what they wanted anywhere, any time, and without any help from the companies who produce and/or sell the items the consumers want.
This last point is crucial: Google (and the rest of the Internet) enable consumers to get information about a product or service without every talking to the companies who produce or sell the items the consumer is seeking. Now that consumers can find anything they want online: they buy differently, they search differently, and they interact differently with sales people.
As an example, a recent Google study showed that a person buying a car will have as many as 900+ digital interactions when researching which car to buy before she makes a purchase: https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/articles/consumer-car-buying-process-reveals-auto-marketing-opportunities.html.
Google and the Internet have fundamentally changed the relationship between salesperson and consumer. The consumer will be wiser and often more cynical about sales people and more trusting of information she finds herself online. After all, the Internet's job seems to be to provide me information I'm looking for. The sales person's job is to make a sale. Who would you trust?
Enter Content Marketing
Content marketing is not a soft sell. It's not a way of softly convincing a consumer that your product is better. Content marketing is about giving value to the consumer before she ever speaks to a sales person. It's about becoming a natural part of the consumer's buying cycle. Consumers research before they make a purchase. Content marketing should help make that process of researching easier. It's more than just this, but if content marketing makes the consumer's task of researching easier, it is probably on the right path.