The term content marketing has been buzzing around marketing circles for the past few years. But what does it really mean?
When I first heard the term, I thought it sounded redundant. Doesn’t all marketing have content?
My next thought was, “Has this concept been stolen?” After all, we’re marketers, and marketers love to give old things new names.
So, what is content marketing? Is it something new or has a crime been committed? Let’s investigate.
Tagging the Evidence To facilitate meaningful discussions around marketing strategy, I find it helpful to define the terms we’re using. So let’s do a little detective work and see if we can solve the mystery behind this nebulous nomenclature.
Exhibit B: Next, let’s examine the word content. Several witnesses corroborate that it stems from the growing role that content plays in delivering marketing results in today’s sales environment.
Exhibit C: If we examine what happened just before the term emerged, we find that content marketing has its roots in journalism and public relations. It began to gain acceptance in the vernacular of marketers at a time when technology was opening the doors to new publishers and as traditional publishers were losing power (and laying off employees who shifted into the business sector). In fact, a common definition of content marketing is simply, self-publishing.
Exhibit D: Based on surveillance of the subject, it appears that content marketing’s intent is to deliver frequent content of interest. Regularity and relevance are definitely part of its M.O.
Exhibit E: Lastly, objectives seem to be missing from many of the “definitions” out there. In the case of content marketing, stated goals are reportedly, “to stay top of mind with key prospects and customers” and “to influence by earning a reputation as a trusted resource.”
Hearsay: A while back, I contacted marketing guru Seth Godin, author of classics such as Permission Marketing, Linchpin and Tribes, regarding some comments he made about content marketing. His simple-yet-profound response pulled together all of the pieces for me. He said, “I guess my point was that saying something worth hearing is important.”
Making an Arrest Based on the evidence, it appears that content marketing does have some original elements—and is not a stolen concept. And we now have a new suspect: Clearly, many marketers are guilty of not saying anything worth hearing. But before we get out the handcuffs, let’s see if we can pin down the definition of content marketing. Here’s mine. See if you agree.
content marketing (con´tent mär´kit´ing) n. self-publishing relevant information on a regular basis to gain influence by positioning a business as a trusted authority
Content is critical because consumers and business leaders know what they’re looking for and they’re spending more time online finding it. You may not have noticed, but according to Forrester Research’s U.S. Interactive Marketing Forecast, 2011 to 2016, two important lines crossed in 2010: We spent more hours on the Internet—at home and at work—than watching television.
Interactive marketing spend will near $77 billion in 2016 because these trends in Internet usage and self-education are making quality content crucial for business and marketing leaders seeking engagement and influence, two topics that I’ll cover in more detail in an upcoming post.
TMA+Peritus is a full-service content marketing agency celebrating its 30th anniversary. And Doug Tangwall is its newest employee. In his role as account manager, Doug serves as a business and marketing strategist, conducts Voice-of-Customer research and helps clients develop original content to engage and influence potential customers.