There Is No Such Thing As Content

“Bad conversationalists talk about themselves. Good conversationalists will talk about a common interest. Great conversationalists talk about the other person.” -Anonymous

When you need to bring attention to your new product, there are many tools in your marketing arsenal. You can pay others to promote your product (advertising), encourage existing customers to invite other customers (growth hacking) or have the press write about you (PR). Another option is called Content Marketing, where you write a blog, post on Twitter and try to start conversations that will catch on in social media to raise your profile.

In Content Marketing, unlike PR or advertising, you are not talking about yourself but instead on a related topic or field. For example, if you are running a tractor company you might write a blog about pricing trends in the farm industry. While you don’t talk about your tractors directly, you might attract a large number of readers in the farming industry that will then know your brand and explore your product line.

Content marketing is not complicated (or new). It generates leads in the same way as other forms of marketing, but with the potential to be cheaper than advertising and higher volume than PR. To be successful at it, you need to realize one thing:

There is no such thing as content.

Content is a word which is increasingly overused to refer to everything from movies to news articles to tweets. Today, content can refer to anything that was created in electronic format to be distributed (usually in a video, image or text). That makes the definition so broad as to be completely meaningless.

So, how do you launch a content marketing strategy if there is no such thing as content?

The key to content marketing is talking about something that interests people with a unique perspective. Your potential customers will not read your blog unless you are providing them with new information, providing an opinion on the news that they find insightful, teaching them some new skills or in some other way making their life easier. It might be easier to think of content marketing as “Information Marketing” or “Instruction Marketing” or “Analysis Marketing” depending on the approach you take and how you benefit your customers.

Most content marketing falls into one of the following categories:

  • Business Analysis. Analyzing a market, business or products can help attract an audience trying to understand those things themselves (analysts, reporters, etc.). If you are building a company you are naturally an expert on your industry so it’s likely that you can provide good, in depth analysis.
  • Tutorials or Instructions. Teaching is a great way to build relationships with your customers, or potential customers. You can teach them how to do something new, understand a complex topic or use product. If you go down this route, try to avoid only teaching about your own products since that will not appeal to the widest possible audience.
  • Opinions. You might offer your opinion on the news, products or other companies. Opinions differ from analysis in that you are not looking to use data to draw conclusions, but provide your own perspective. Many people have built entire careers off of their opinion, just make sure yours is interesting enough to stand out.
  • News. Breaking the news is a great way to get everyone’s attention. Good or bad, news attracts the full range of people from customers to analysts and reporters. Remember that even though you consider your new product launch news, no one else might.
  • Humor. People love humor, just make sure you are actually funny.

Some examples of very successful content marketing strategies:

  • Flurry (News/Analysis): Uses its unique market data to report on trends and changes in the mobile market.
  • Hubspot (Tutorials): Teaches people how to effectively use social media and content marketing to grow their audience.
  • Buffer (News/Tutorials): Runs their company completely transparency, allowing outsiders to see (and learn from) everything from their salaries to revenues.

Whatever you choose, the most important thing is to be unique. If you are analyzing a market, start from a new angle. If you are breaking news, make sure you have it first. You want to stand out from the crowd as well as giving your audience a reason to come back again in the future.

Content marketing requires time and patience. Even if your content is brilliant, there is no guarantee that your audience will find you right away. However, if you are unique, persistent,  and focused on quality, you can augment your marketing efforts and help grow your business.

2 thoughts on “There Is No Such Thing As Content

  1. Think_Lyndon (@THINK_Lyndon)

    An interesting piece Sean, thank you.

    I would argue there is no such thing as content marketing – rather, marketing that uses content [I agree this is nothing new] and that the definition of content has expanded with new platforms, technologies and consumption trends.

    There is, in my opinion, content that achieves the desired outcome and content that does not. There is too much focus on volume, rather than quality [the premise underpinning content marketing ‘strategies’] because it is now easier and cheaper to create it. People also expect overnight success – which rarely happens. It takes patience to build the right relationships, develop the right content, deliver it at the right time and use the right delivery mechanism.

    I’d also content that having people invite others to take action on behalf of your business is marketing, not growth hacking and the media writing about you is – generally – publicity not PR. These are common misunderstandings within the industry – which often results in badly conceived marketing and publicity campaigns.


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