What is content marketing (and why does it matter)?

By Posted in - ALL & Content Strategy on December 10th, 2015 0 Comments

You’ve looked at our website. You’ve flicked through our Twitter feed. You’ve seen some of the work we’ve carried out with our awesome clients. And that phrase is coming up again and again – content marketing. What is it? Do I need to know about it? Or is it just another one of those fancy digital economy buzzwords?

Well obviously we’re going to answer no to that last question. Content marketing is what we do. When done well and strategically, content marketing can make a significant difference to the way businesses and organisations work, and to how you understand your audiences and customers. In this blog, we are going to look at how to define content marketing, and its role in helping businesses and organisations have the conversations they want, with the people they want.

Defining a content marketing strategy

Content marketing is about what you are sharing with your audiences, whether that be potential customers, supporters, members or staff.

Marketing strategies and plans, like with website designs and templates, focus on structures. Content marketing strategies focus on substance – the stuff we put inside those structures. That’s the words we write, the images we use, the videos we share, and the conversations we have. They all add value and encourage action and advocacy. If you’re a business, that means sales, enhanced reputation and recommendations. If you’re an organisation or institution, that means more targeted supporters, volunteers, donors or fundraisers.

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Your content marketing strategy can help solve people’s problems, providing answers to the kind of questions that they have, which they wouldn’t necessarily think you have the answers to. A great example of this is Pampers’ website. You probably wouldn’t turn to Pampers for ideas on how to celebrate your baby’s first birthday, but their content provides useful tips and advice that new parents can engage with.

Content marketing puts user needs first, creating content that is emotional, shareable and memorable.

An example: It’s all gone to the dogs

Let’s consider this from a business and a customer’s point of view. Let’s say the business sells dog food. Your marketing strategy says “do social media” and “have great content on your website”. It gives the structure, but what does this really mean? What about the substance? You want your content on your website and social media channels to scream out that your dog food is the best choice for every conscientious dog owner out there. You talk about ingredients, processing, packaging, and the little wag of joy that every dog gets when they eat your food. Lovely messages, great sell. But, there’s a but…

Jane is your target customer. She’s just about to bring home her first puppy. She’s going to need dog food. But Jane is spending most of her time puppy proofing her house, buying cleaning products, searching the internet for advice on how to house train that little pee machine, looking for the best toys, working out how to train them. YouTube is probably her best friend right now.

A dog sitting on a woman's lap in a car wrapped in a blanket

Photo by Andy Omvik on Unsplash

So, the smart dog food company creates a YouTube content marketing approach, a really fantastic blog and an integrated social media plan that shares the very best advice on how to raise and train your puppy. The videos are fantastic tutorials that actually show Jane how to teach that bundle of cuteness how to sit, roll-over, go pee on demand, and stop barking at the postman. Their Pinterest account has board after board, which curates the most amazing products out there for dogs, from dog beds to toys to treats to, yep, you guessed it…food products too. It’s a veritable feast of usefulness and everything a new dog owner could possibly want, and it all happens to sit on the website of a company that makes and sells dog food.

Contrast with the website that just talks about how great their dog food is, you can guess which one Jane is going to be drawn to and probably end up wanting to buy from. That right there is the success of content marketing.

What’s in it for me?

A good content marketing strategy is a powerful thing. Whether we like it or not, we’re all emotional beings. Every decision we make or impression we form is based on our emotions. Content plays a huge part in creating emotions that inform decision-making. In day to day life, we all use words to persuade or influence those around us – whether that’s to help a customer to buy from you, or getting your kids to eat their greens. Words, images, videos, they’re all content that we can use to grab attention and help people understand you, value you, and share that content with others.

A single word can have a big impact on how people get to know you or make decisions about you. You can win new leads, customers, supporters and advocates through content marketing. So it’s important to get it right.

Got a question about content marketing? Get in touch with us here.

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