The real question: What is content marketing?#WHATELSE Rishi Sen • October 9, 2017
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when someone asks you about content marketing? Facebook, Twitter, YouTube? Fancy websites? Endless mailers?
Content marketing has been around for a very long time. Far longer than the internet.
Why, you may ask? It’s simple – content marketing is all about storytelling – and humans have been telling stories since they learned to speak.
We have always paid attention to those who tell great stories. That’s the reason that interesting blogs which tell a simple story, and movies do so well.
And also probably why Kevin Spacey was a keynote speaker at a marketing conference.
When Hasbro and Marvel joined hands to launch their comic book series, ‘G.I. Joe – A real American Hero!’ back in 1982, their marketing strategy was simple. They wanted to create what Kenner Toy Company’s Star Wars action figures already had – a rich back story for their action toys.
Within the first two months of releasing the comic book, about 20% of their target audience, boys between the age of 5 and 12, had two or more G.I. Joe toys. And the comic book had only two stories.
The series was one of Marvel’s strongest titles and 2 out of 3 boys in the same age category owned at least one G.I. Joe action figure.
Now that’s what I call using content to market a product.
Coming back to the present, a lot has changed in our digitally savvy era. What worked back in the 80’s might not work today. However, with newer marketing channels popping up daily, opportunity is knocking at your doorstep.
Time to get literal. Again, what is content marketing?
Content marketing is defined as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience, and ultimately, drive profitable customer action”.
– Content Marketing Institute
Although this definition seems like a perfectly crafted wiki paragraph, it could use some clarity for the average Joe.
Let’s ask that question again. What does content marketing really mean?
Content marketing is a long-term strategy, based on building a strong relationship with your target audience by giving them quality content that is relevant to them on a daily basis. Eventually, when the customer comes to make a purchase decision, you’ve already connected with them emotionally. That emotional connect builds a pre-existing loyalty, so they are likely to prefer your product over your competitor’s.
Customers need to feel cared about more than ever, because the world is louder and noisier than ever before. Attention is the most valuable resource. This is where content marketing comes into play.
There’s a lot to learn from those first offline content marketing activities that pre-date the internet. Of course, storytelling has changed over the years and advertisers have to make sure that they tell stories in the year we actually live in. Attention spans have dropped dramatically, and so content needs to be shaped accordingly. Forget the long preamble and wordy descriptors – it’s all about fast engagement through catchy headlines and snappy content.
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