June 13, 2012

Marketing Content is not Content Marketing

Last week I saw a slide on "Content Marketing." The slide described the promotion of an isolated piece, maybe it was a white paper, through a number of channels: Email, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and so on.

Is that really Content Marketing? There was a piece of content. It was promoted with traditional, paid and social channels. It's a kind of content promotion, for sure.

But Content Marketing isn't about marketing your regular old content and making sure you add a social channel or two. It's about strategically creating valuable content that serves a number of roles in the marketing process. And placing that content where the right people (potential buyers) can find it. On their terms.

Valuable content has always been important throughout the customer life-cycle, from acquisition of prospects to training and support of customers. And quality content is that which is useful to the audience—informative, entertaining or both.

An important feature to keep in mind is that spouting about how great you are is only useful in a narrow range of the revenue cycle. And even then it has to be more than empty claims. That is, not the "we're the leader, we're the experts, easy to use, blah blah blah"! Write about concrete differentiation, and back it up with facts.

But don't worry, it's not all about them, the viewers, readers and listeners. You get to strategically create your content to help yourself too.

Is it important to you to differentiate business buyers from technical buyers? Then create different content for each. Make it clear with titles, ads, and descriptions for whom the piece is designed. If you roll it all in one, you don't learn as much about the person who consumes it.

Is it important for you to know if the content consumer is ready to buy, selecting a vendor, deciding if they need any solution at all, or not even educated enough to grasp their pending need? Then create pieces that appeal to people at distinct phases of the engagement cycle. No one goes perfectly linearly through the process. But as they bounce around, you'll know where they are.

Now we're covering ground that's covered elsewhere. (Here's a good one.)

The main thing is that adding, say, Twitter to your outbound promotion of the usual content is not going to cut it. Marketing content is not Content Marketing.