Content marketing may well be the hottest trend in marketing currently. It encourages businesses to think not only about creating and disseminating their key messaging, but also about how this can be done in an efficient and effective manner. It is taking the marketing world by storm as it challenges marketers not to merely think about producing sales literature or product collateral, but producing easily repurposed thought leadership pieces that show potential customers and stakeholders who the company is and what solutions it provides, as opposed to just what it makes.
As communication professionals residing in Northeast Ohio, the worldwide epicenter of content marketing research thanks in large part to the Content Marketing Institute and its Content Marketing World summit that wrapped up last month, we at AKHIA have spent a substantial amount of time thinking about content marketing and how it might most benefit our clients. Since creating our Content Development Department two years ago, we have focused our efforts on helping customers create the most compelling content possible, and we have embraced the exciting trend toward more comprehensive content marketing strategies as a tool for ensuring the content that is produced is being used (and reused) as productively as possible.
As we have contemplated content marketing strategies, one of the thoughts that crossed our minds is that content (i.e., marketing materials) sounds an awful lot like content (i.e., the state of feeling appeased). In fact, they’re identical. And this can’t be a mere coincidence, can it?
Well, yes, probably.
Oh the joys of the English language. Regardless, the fact that the two words are not necessarily related does not mean the two concepts are not. In fact, we would posit that content marketing is ALL ABOUT creating contentedness—for those creating the content, their customers, and beyond.
So where do the concepts of “Content” (the noun, which we’ll capitalize for the sake of differentiation moving forward) and “content” (the adjective) intersect? A few places, actually.
Content helps you “know thyself”. One of the best ways to figure out what your organization stands for and what exactly you are striving to convey or achieve is to undertake an endeavor to spell it out. By having internal stakeholders agree in principle on the direction of a marketing effort before an external-facing campaign is undertaken, you can ensure that internal stakeholders are content with the way ideas are being conveyed when it comes time to create additional Content pieces.
Getting your messaging straight in the initial stage of a Content marketing campaign also helps stakeholders feel more confident that potential issues and challenges will be identified and addressed up front. When you feel that you know who you are, how you help your customers and what your “voice” is, you will find yourself better prepared to confidently speak to the needs of your customers with external-facing pieces. In addition, more often than not you’ll emerge from your internal narrative drafting phase with a pretty good start on which to base various external pieces that make up your Content marketing campaign.
Great Content also helps to create contented customers. The idea behind Content marketing is that you should become a publisher of Content that your customers and stakeholders will find helpful, not simply something that will inform them about your products or services. This is the principle behind showing what you can offer (innovative ideas, solutions to problems) versus showing only what you sell.
By publishing Content that is written chiefly to be useful to your audience more so than to sell directly, you foster greater credibility in the eyes of potential customers and, in turn, can spur more opportunities for conversation with customers who begin looking at you as a partner, not just an organization that wants their money.
Research has shown for more than half a century that perceptions of trustworthiness and expertise are the key to credibility, and in turn, to persuasion. It is this very principle on which Content marketing is built—your Content fosters perceptions of your organization as possessing expertise, and that your organization is a partner that can be trusted. In turn, contented customers will come to rely on you.
Being content with your Content
The fact that Content marketing is the “latest thing” may make some wary of pursuing it. As the research cited above shows, however, there isn’t all the much new about it—Content marketing is simply a new way to frame old ideas and tactics in a more strategic way. It is a common sense approach to marketing, and it’s based around the tenet of minimizing costs by repurposing materials.
The key to success with Content marketing is to create Content that makes you and your stakeholders more content. It’s an exciting trend, and one we’re excited to talk about at AKHIA.
What are your thoughts on the Content Marketing Revolution? Let us know.