How would you define content marketing in the year 2019? Here’s an overview from Marketing 360®.
We’ll start this post with an admission. It’s just about impossible to have a finite, exact definition of the tactic of content marketing in 2019. Both content and marketing are too broad in meaning and impact.
Yet content marketing is a tactic every business will execute, whether they plan to or not. If you need to persuade someone to take a certain action, you’re marketing. If you’re online using blog, website, video and social media platforms, you’re creating content.
The combination of these things means that any business can go well beyond the direct-response ads of the past. Instead, you use modern content platforms to tell a story. This story communicates the value you deliver and, in the end, persuades people that your offer is a fit for their lifestyle.
Here’s an overview of what content marketing looks like for SMBs in 2019. We may not be able to provide an exact definition, but we can give you a sense of direction for this important marketing tactic.
Let’s start with content. Content is not just blog posts or white papers. It’s not just promotional videos that are at least 2 minutes long. It’s not just a call to action or value proposition.
In 2019, content is literally any material you use to market your business. Your business card is content. Your About Us and Contact Us website pages are content. Anything that shows up on search about you is content. What you tell a stranger at a coffee shop about your business is content.
In fact, some of the most influential content for your business isn’t even something you generate. It’s reviews written by your customers. This content has a major impact on your sales and lead generation, and it’s only partially under your control.
If you create a piece of collateral designed to influence your audience, it’s part of your content strategy.
Marketing is any activity you engage in that has the purpose of persuading people that your offer has value.
Marketing and persuasion are virtually synonymous. If you run for mayor in your town, you’re marketing. If you’re trying to convince your teacher to bump your grade from a B to an A, you’re marketing. If you post an Instagram selfie that you think really shows who you are, you’re marketing.
One important qualification for business marketing is that it targets a demographic and/or psychographic. There is a group of people with shared characteristics you’re trying to persuade. But at the same time, as individuals move through your sales funnel, you personalize their journey as much a possible.
Marketing is strategic. It’s the intention that drives advertising, PR, sales, and – of course – content creation.
Anything you do that exposes people to your brand and makes a memorable impression is marketing.
The Digital Conversation
When you think of marketing as the art of persuasion, you realize our culture is driven by marketers. It’s not hard to see why.
The internet, and in particular social media, altered traditional marketing. Today we’re all our own one-person broadcasting stations. Likewise, we can follow brand stories in ways that were impossible a decade ago.
Online marketing is a two-way street. It’s real communication because you don’t just broadcast to your audience – they talk back to you. Likewise, they talk to each other about your brand.
Social media, online forums, and blog comments all provide people opportunities to speak to you and about you. So part of content marketing is listening and responding.
This is really a huge benefit to digital marketing. There’s nothing more valuable than getting direct insights from your customers. They’ll tell you about hang-ups and also describe what they love about your work.
Smart marketers listen to this digital conversation and use it to modify their message. There’s nothing more powerful in advertising than knowing exactly what to say to trigger a response from your target audience.
Create a Theme
With today’s multichannel content marketing, you can’t just run direct-response ads. You must tell your story.
A marketing story, like any story, needs a theme which connects to the value you deliver and how you keep promises. It also may connect to how you support your community and make the world a better place. Your theme will keep your content consistent and simple while giving your brand a human element.
Take your value proposition and think about how you can exemplify it through anecdotes and real-life examples. Personalize your story, particularly on social media.
Also, consider how you can provide useful information. One of the most effective types of business content marketing is finding an informational niche. When your prospective customers have informational gaps you can fill, it gives you the chance to educate them and build trust. This type of content is also useful for nurturing leads through your sales funnel.
Think of the ways your brand and products fit into people’s lifestyles. The content people are most eager to consume is stuff that connects to their lifestyle or – as often – the one they aspire to.
Because of the fluid, multichannel nature of digital content, you need a theme that keeps your ideas consistent. In a way, your brand is like a person. It has a personal voice that makes the value you deliver come to life.
Building a Brand
Let’s reconsider the admission we started with. Maybe there is a way to define content marketing in 2019.
Content marketing: the act of creating, promoting and distributing content with a simple, consistent, personal story that makes your brand memorable.
If that doesn’t quite work as a definition, it certainly works as a goal.
With content marketing, whether you’re eCommerce site targeting a national audience or local service provider, the underlying goal is to get your brand in front of people in a memorable way. You want them to understand the value you offer so when the moment of truth comes and they’re ready to spend money, they’ll remember you.
Content marketing introduces people to your brand and tells them a story that resonates emotionally. Your content educates them, entertains them, and wins their trust.
Content marketing is fully aligned with our digital lives in 2019. In a sense, you can think of it as kind of transcendent billboard that integrates itself into people’s online activities. At first, they may just kind of glance at it. But if you capture their interest and connect with their lifestyle, you’ll gain an emensely valuable marketing asset: their attention.
When you win their attention your have permission to tell your story. Within that story is an element of persuasion that tells people: Your one of us. We’re the kind of business you’ll feel good about working with. People like you buy from businesses like ours.
Is content marketing part of your strategy for 2019? We’d argue that you have no choice. It is.
The question is how effective your execution will be, and how much business growth will you enjoy from the results.
That, after all, is how the story ends.