I became a Content Director in 2006, after a decade working as a copywriter. Hard to believe it was seven years ago, but this fact leads me to point out how old content is. Content is old as the MarCom Hills. John Deere created The Furrow, a magazine for farmers in 1985. It’s still going strong today. Yet, “Content Marketing” has emerged as a major buzzword and topic of conversation today — like Social Media before it — and many clients and agency personnel continue to shake their heads and ask, “What is this Content Marketing and why do I need it?”
Content Marketing is brand-sponsored text, images, audio and video, plus live experiences that people actively seek out, thanks to the fact it enriches their lives in some small way, either by providing compelling entertainment or some form of utility. For instance, I helped Columbia Sportswear make their first smartphone App, “What Knot To Do” in 2009, which provides branded utility to sailors, climbers and others.
Rosie Siman of 360i uses a similar description:
We define it as assets and experiences that, in aggregate, form pieces of your brand story. It can range from apps to ebooks, from infographics to transmedia experiences, from tweets to filtered photos.
Siman also touches on how Content Marketing is different from advertising.
I’d argue that all commercials are content, just not necessarily good content. Though the reverse isn’t necessarily true: good content doesn’t have to resemble what we traditionally think of as commercials.
I see the differences as more distinct, even though the purpose is the same (to build the brand and grow the business).
Most advertising we see everyday repels because it’s loud and obnoxious me-first messaging. Content flips the script by placing the audience, not the marketer’s talking points, at the heart of the communications strategy. For instance, a community credit union may have better rates and lower costs, which are perfect points of difference to build an ad campaign around. But the credit union’s content strategy won’t follow this formula, instead it will discover what credit union members care about, and where the brand’s interests intersect.
A company is not an island, it’s part of a community made up of workers, customers and so on. People in your community already tell stories about your company, whether you realize it or not. By telling some of your own, you can help guide the narrative around the brand. You can’t control it, but you can elevate the overall discourse and put the brand’s best foot forward.
Just like your company is not an island, either is the content you make and offer to your various constituents. The best content is a perfect compliment to your advertising and PR. Content helps deepen connections with prospects, customer and staff. It doesn’t replace your ads or your PR, it is one-third of the paid, owned and earned media trinity.
Feel free to call me at 503-970-3862 to discuss in greater detail.