Google+ The Marketing Survivalist: What is Content?

What is Content?

What is your content marketing strategy?

It’s a question that gets blank looks from many a marketing executive. Often it’s followed by a response such as, “Well, we don’t have a strategy, per se…”

I suppose that’s better than the strategy that involves creating monthly emails that bombard disinterested suspects (not prospects) with links back to brochures and web pages.

The occasional marketer, the one who really wants to take their game to the next level, will ask the more relevant question:

What is content?

I’ve always explained content to be that which is intended primarily to inform instead of sell.

Those marketers who delight in pointing out the flaw in any explanation (usually those with a sales background) might reply, “But my brochures inform, then I do the selling.”

Then there’s the occasional “marketer” who firmly believes in the “sell early, sell often” approach and doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with starting with “the pitch.” These folks need some sort of solution selling course more than they need me.

But as Socrates said, true knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing.

In that vein, I went to the Content Marketing Institute to dig up their definition of content marketing.

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. What is Content Marketing?

It’s a good definition to help us understand both content marketing and the goals behind a comprehensive content marketing strategy.

Let’s break the key words and phrases down:

Relevant – Your content, whatever form it may take, has to be relevant to your audience. If you’re trying to attract an audience to drive sales of ice fishing houses then your content should be about topics related to ice fishing houses.

Valuable – I would substitute informative here because I think it’s easier to relate to. In the above example, informative might be  an article or blog post focused on how the right ice fishing house can protect you from the elements even when it’s 40 below. (BTW, so can a real house.)

So far, I don’t think anything we’ve said necessarily precludes brochures. A brochure can be relevant and it can be informative, e.g., one that educates the prospect on the features to look for in an ice house. That’s why the rest of the definition is so important.

Attract, acquire, and engage – Not every piece of content will necessarily do all three things.

Attracting prospects might involve content that alerts potential buyers to a problem they didn’t realize they had.

Acquiring prospects requires content that educates them on the topic and helps them see your organization as the go-to resource.

Engaging prospects means offering content that compels them to reach out to you.

Clearly defined and understood target audience – Without knowing who your audience is, it’s almost impossible to achieve relevance. During project kick off meetings, I spend a significant amount of time asking questions about who we’re trying to reach – and what they might be thinking.

Who tells me the level at which I need to write, e.g., business, technical, etc. What they’re thinking tells me how to create content that will resonate.

Driving profitable customer action – Just because it’s informative doesn’t mean you can skip the call to action. However, the call to action may be different at every stage of attract, acquire, and engage. For example, a blog post call to action might be as simple as inviting prospects to connect via one of your social sites. Later in the engagement portion of the cycle, the call to action from a webinar might be to set up a meeting.

I’d love to hear what you think. Does this definition work for you, or are there aspects you think are missing? You can add your comments below or reach out to me directly at or on any of my social sites.

All the best!

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