What is Content Marketing?

July 11, 2013 Aaliyah Madadi

If you’re reading this blog piece, chances are you’ve heard the term ‘content marketing’ being tossed around the web. Perhaps you’re already well-versed in content marketing or maybe you’re just getting started on your own strategy. Experienced content marketers can attest, and novice ones will soon discover, that the world of content marketing is a fascinating one – one that if done correctly will take your brand further than it’s gone before. Regardless of your level of expertise, let’s first refresh ourselves on the definition of content marketing. According to the Content Marketing Institute,

Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

In essence, content marketing empowers brands to become publishers and to raise their brand profile and generate leads through their content and social channels. Content marketing is rising in importance as companies are expected to increase their interactive marketing spend from $49.6 million in 2013 to $76.6 million in 2016.

What types of content?

Blogs, videos, whitepapers, guides, infographics, and webinars are some of the most popular ways that content marketers are creating and distributing content today. All of these mediums offer alternative ways to connect with your audience. It’s no surprise that people consume content differently; some prefer reading blogs posts while watching videos is the ideal form for others. Experiment creating content across different mediums to diversify your reach and audience’s engagement.

At its core, content marketing isn’t meant to be a sale-pitch or a short-term strategic approach – in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Content marketing is about positioning your brand as an industry expert and thought leader – one whose opinions and perspectives your audience values and learns from. Through good content, companies can increase their brand awareness while also driving qualified leads to their product or services: essentially, if you’re doing content marketing right, the people reading your content are the people that are most likely to use your solution and become a paying customer.

Don’t be fooled!

Content marketing is a long term approach that takes many months to build. In the beginning, you’ll likely be pumping a lot of time and resources into building your content marketing foundation with little tangible return. But that’s okay – the time you’re investing to build a strong foundation will be well worth it in the long run. Just make sure you don’t skip any corners when building out your strategy.

Sure, there’s definitely room for trial and error such as experimenting with different types of content, tones, authors, mediums, etc., but skimping out on areas such as the quality of your content or the relevancy of it to your audience will only hurt you in the long run. You can think of content marketing as a relationship: the moment your content comes off as being insincere or inadequate, your audience loses trust and the relationship crumbles.

A few months ago I attended a fantastic presentation by Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, who reinforced the importance of building out a content marketing mission statement. Especially if you’re just starting out in content marketing, building a mission statement is a great way to narrow the scope of your strategy; it will help you understand who your target audience is, what you should deliver to that audience, and how it affects them. Ultimately, this mission statement will guide you to create and deliver the right content to your audience, and to eliminate ones that don’t advance your end goals.

What tips would you give to content marketers that are just starting out? Share it in the comments!

About the Author

After graduating from the HBA program at the Richard Ivey School of Business, Aaliyah launched her career as Marketing Coordinator at Uberflip! Prior to her HBA, Aaliyah also completed a Bachelor in English at Western University.

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