What is Content Marketing?
“Content”, “Content Marketing”, “Branded Content”, “Making a content play…” With the content space being so hot right now, the C word is popping up everywhere.
It’s bouncing around on meeting room tables, it’s all up in your LinkedIn feeds, it’s on that brief you’re writing – or about to get stuck into.
But are we all talking about the same thing when we use these terms?
Walk into one business and the content team are busy making banner ads and Facebook carousels. Walk into another and they’re producing a YouTube series about tiny homes. Is the Lego Movie content marketing? Netflix’s Stranger Things season 3’s Coca Cola related story lines, is that branded content?
Okay… So in an attempt to draw some lines in the sand, here’s the definition of content marketing that works for us here at BlueMelon.
Content Marketing Definition
Content marketing is narrative based content (including but not limited to articles, video, books, songs, animations, social media posts) created by a brand, with the intention of helping or entertaining their customers.
It’s a strategic type of marketing where the brand creates a human connection with the customer by adding value to areas of their life beyond the product.
Through these narratives, the brand demonstrates their values and position on the topics that the customer is passionate about. It’s like the brand saying to the customer “Hey, I’m your type of people” rather than traditional advertising which is saying “Hey, buy this.”
Ultimately, it stimulates brand equity and will make the customer more likely to choose your brand when it comes time to purchase.
Or, as the Content Marketing Institute puts it:
Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
Passion Points & Pain Points
Take Patagonia for example. Patagonia makes outdoors wear and surfing gear. They also make surfing and environmental content. They do tons of research about sustainability which is well articulated in their content and distributed for free. So if you care about surfing or the environment, you may have consumed some of their content and feel like they’re your kinda brand. Time to buy a new wetsuit? Guess who’s range (made from recycled materials) you’ll be checking out first…
Content marketing is always strategic. Without strategy your efforts run a high risk of being just content for content’s sake. So to avoid this, the strategy must begin with a clear target audience and insights about the audience’s passion points and pain points.
Back to our friends at Patagonia. Their target audience: Outdoorsy people. Passion point? Surfing. Pain point? Destruction of the environment, pollution. No environment, no outdoor activities, no future. Patagonia’s approach? Talk to the customers about what they care about – ignite their passions – give them solutions, help make their problems feel smaller. Publish relevant content, in the places where they will find it. That’s content marketing.
Things that are not Content Marketing
If we’re trying to ignite passions and solve people’s problems, then we’re not talking about a banner ad. To really influence someone’s thinking, you need to go deeper. Same goes for a lead gen form or a catalogue. Sure, these things could appear at a different stage in your campaign, that might be supported by content, but it’s not content marketing.
Content vs Content Marketing
Now here’s the super tricky part… “Content” can be used to describe many things, but that are not necessarily content marketing. This little detail does tend to cause a lot of confusion. Content could be basically any form of media, an image, a product description on a website, or a video… Irrespective of the purpose, tone, audience or objective. So whilst generally someone referring to “Content” in our industry is talking about content marketing, sometimes they simply mean content. So it never hurts to clarify.
For “Content Marketing” – think of a brand as a publisher, speaking to the target audience’s passion and pain points. “Content” could be a multitude of things, but most often it’s used to describe the assets behind your content marketing initiatives.
But if it’s ever unclear, nobody would judge you if you asked for clarification. Well, definitely not us.
Here at BlueMelon we love content AND content marketing and could talk about it until the cows come home. So if you would like some help from a friendly team of experts, give us a shout.