Content marketing is exploding today, but what is it exactly? And when is content the best approach to a marketing problem?
According to Andrew Boer, president of MovableMedia, there’s a notable difference between content marketing and custom content.
Writing on Adotas, Boer argues:
In my view, there is a simple and fundamental difference between content marketing and custom content: one is internal, one is external.
Custom content — pioneered by folks like Pohly & Pohly over 50 years ago with the airline magazine — was typically the creation of content meant to build an affinity with your existing audience. This content would reinforce the brand, communicate the value of the product and create new opportunities.
There is some overlap, but content marketing for the most part is a different beast. Content marketing is predominantly outward facing — it is about creating content that will attract new customers for brands. It can be branded content, but it can also be simply “brand-relevant” content that attracts an audience.
Interesting distinction, but I prefer to keep things much simpler. Content is what people volunteer to spend time with, versus ads which they avoid like the plague.
When the content is brand-sponsored it needs to keep people in the franchise and attract prospects. Why limit it to one or the other?
Now, let’s look at the “when to use content?” question.
Kevin Ryan, Gilt Groupe’s chairman and CEO, spoke with DailyFinance about his company’s growth opportunities, the world of private-sale sites, and the company’s content strategy.
We’re not a content company: We’re an e-commerce company. Our goal is provide great ways to buy great merchandise. We think that content helps that, in some areas more than others. It’s not important when buying a pair of socks, but it is when buying foie gras. Gilt Taste has some articles; JetSetter [the travel site] has reviews of the hotels.
Ryan makes a good point. Content is often best when there’s a passionate audience for it. I could make the case that really great socks are worth talking about, but foie gras or button-cap chanterelles or anything that might be considered a lifestyle product is a better candidate for content marketing.
Business-to-business offerings, and professional services companies (in B2B or B2C), also benefit from content marketing.
Anytime there is a knowledgeable audience with a keen interest in knowing more, content is a good answer.