How to Explain Content Marketing to Anyone

How to Explain Content Marketing to Anyone 946 521 C-Suite Network
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The concept of content marketing has been around for hundreds of years (see this example from 1672), and the discipline has gained incredible popularity since 2007, according to Google Trends.

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But, when we recently launched a new e-book that answers common content marketing questions, we learned that many of our readers are just getting started. As such, we want to make sure we continually cover the basics. Whether you are new to the practice, need a new way to look at what you’ve been doing, or need help explaining this to your relatives, this post is for you.

Content marketing as your family would understand

When people ask what you do, does your response receive a quizzical look? “So, what is it exactly that you do,” they ask after you explain your job.

My husband was in this camp until he told me about a newsletter that covers trends affecting financial markets. He looks forward to receiving it each day. He explained that the newsletters didn’t have anything to do with the funds the broker was selling, but the information was solid and valuable – and it was useful research for the investments he makes.

“That’s content marketing,” I explained. It was an aha moment for my husband’s understanding of content marketing – content marketing is educational but is not about the products the company sells. The vendor offers such good information that you become loyal to the brand.

I can share another example that is close to my daughter’s heart. American Girl uses content to transform something that is a commodity – a doll.

American Girl has so much content – and so many content experiences – for its audience, that it’s truly staggering. For instance, it offers:

While all the ways American Girl connects to its audience are too numerous to cover in this one post, I’m particularly amazed by its print publications. For instance, The Care and Keeping of You is a book all about growing up for girls. It ranks second in its category (and 76th most popular among all books on Amazon.) It’s from a brand selling dolls – but the subject has nothing to do with the dolls.

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American Girl Magazine is a top seller in several categories.

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In short, American Girl’s content marketing focuses on how a child can interact with the doll or things that are important to this demographic.

For parents, think about BabyCenter. When I was pregnant and then raising my older daughter, I considered BabyCenter to be required reading. It’s a perfect example of content marketing. According to its website, it is the No. 1 pregnancy and parenting digital destination, and eight in 10 new and expectant moms online use BabyCenter each month. The site is owned by Johnson & Johnson, which sells products for babies.

Content marketing explained to marketers

Hopefully, those examples make it clear that content marketing isn’t about the brand, your products, or your services. It’s about your audience. What do they care about?

And, more importantly, how can you be the one to provide something no one else is, which in turn elevates your brand from a commodity to something people embrace?

Content marketing is different than traditional product marketing efforts like sales collateral and other product-specific info. Content marketing…