When scientists publish articles in reputable journals, it enhances their reputation. When the scientist works for a company in the industry, it enhances the company’s reputation. That kind of knowledge leadership builds trust and indirectly generates revenue. No amount of marketing can create that kind of trust and customer loyalty, until now. That is precisely the kernel of truth upon which content marketing is built.
Feed this concept to a roomful of hungry marketing professionals, and suddenly slick brochures and catchy hard-sell webinars go out the window. Take the in-depth knowledge of a scientist or other subject-matter expert, package it in a variety of formats, at varying levels of complexity, and you have content marketing.
You reach the widest audience by delivering the same insightful information via article, webinar, video, digested blog version with links to more information. Fill it out with case studies. Add photos, charts, graphs, and infographics that firmly support and illustrate the data (not just for looks). When one expert publishes one article in one journal, very few people will see it. Content marketers get it in front of a much wider audience: more formats, more channels, and more organic search traffic.
Content marketing is not about products. But it is about generating revenue. Isn’t that a contradiction? No. Content marketing delivers insights, new levels of understanding, and useful information to the customer. It feeds a hunger for knowledge, instead of touting a product. If the content has substance, the connections between customer and business will follow.
To the customer, content marketing is not marketing. But to the C-suite, it must be presented as marketing. When the C-suite can’t see how deliverables map to revenue, it’s harder to get funding. But smart corporate decision-makers get it—successful companies are the ones who bolstered their brands with industry-thought and industry-knowledge leadership. The only way to leverage that knowledge is with content marketing (since that’s the very definition of it). To make this happen, the marketing budget should include content-expert resources, either internally or outsourced, who can take your knowledge leadership to the streets where it will do you some good.
In the first paragraph I said, “until now,” as though content marketing is new. It’s not new, but broader recognition of its value, and the widespread adoption of it, is relatively new. Our digital population does not respond to ads, largely because today’s digital-device landscape lets us avoid ads altogether. Companies need a different way to reach people. Content marketing is a way to give people what they truly want—knowledge that empowers them to make informed choices.
Actually, you don’t have to toss the slick brochures out the window. You can still use them. But they will be much more persuasive with a solid content marketing strategy behind them. A foundation of reliable knowledge leadership will give glossy marketing assets a whole new impact, and some precious material to leverage.
Content marketing shows your key audience that they can rely on your knowledge, your thoroughness, and your innovation, ahead of your competitors. That means they will buy your products.
Takeaway: Here’s my short definition of content marketing:
“Multipurposed journalistic storytelling from thought-leadership audience-focused content on owned media, which educates and attracts the audience towards the brand to inspire and guide their buying decisions.” It leads to rich growth in the all-important Earned Media, the most fertile ground for revenue generation.
For Further Reading:
- Here’s a good list of content-marketing ideas:
“42 Things I Learned At Content Marketing World” by John Miller, September 11, 2013. Link:
- In case you were wondering why strawberries are no good anymore:
“When Content is Like a Big, Red Strawberry … That Tastes Like Nothing” by Trish Sammer Johnston, May 22, 2014. Link:
http://www.scribewise.com/blog/bid/386967/When-Content-is-Like-a-Big-Red-Strawberry-That-Tastes-Like-Nothing (also a good example of how content marketing can generate revenue without being specifically “about the product”)
- Three examples of effective consumer-targeted content marketing:
“3 Awesome Examples of Lifestyle Content Marketing” by Monica Montesa, April 23, 2013. Link:
- For the more dynamic side of content marketing—the Brand Newsroom:
“Brand Newsrooms: What they are and how to build one” by John Miller, November 3, 2014. Link: