Making Content Marketing Work

If you are a marketer in 2014, there are three things that have become completely unavoidable:  social media, The World Cup, and Content Marketing.  The first two have been around for a while, whereas content marketing is making its push recently.

So how hot has the concept of Content Marketing been recently?

Consider “Google Trends” data that catalogs the number of times that a word or phrase appeared in news headlines over periods of time.  In the entirety of 2011 there were 283 news headlines containing the subject of Content Marketing.

Through the first 6 months of 2014 there have been 484 mentions, an annualized increase of nearly 342%, and in the past 48 hours there have been no less than 10 articles published, including one by the Harvard Business Review entitled “The Content Marketing Revolution”.

So what exactly is content marketing? 

Content marketing, simply put, is the practice of developing and distributing useful content to customers.  Think of it as engaging customers in your brand by having a conversation WITH them, rather than developing messages that are directed AT them.


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So why is it so popular?  Frankly, because it flat-out performs:

  • Global marketing research & advisory firm Demand Metric reports (here) that Content Marketing costs roughly 62% LESS than traditional marketing, yet per dollar spent, it generates 300% MORE LEADS.
  • In the same study, a staggering 82% of respondents reported feeling more positive about a brand after reading its content.

Through our research and experience there are three keys that we’ve established to being a great content marketer:

  1. Understand Your Customer:  Take time to understand your customer and most importantly, “why they hire your brand”.  Too often the answers that appear here are far too practical and technical.  Think emotionally and realistically – what problem do they need solved?
  1. Be Authentic:  Content marketing is first and foremost about content, and then about marketing.  If you’re producing a “how-to”, it has to deliver the “how-to” first and the recommended products second.  Get the order right and customers will be more likely to engage.
  1. Listen to the Conversation:  Content marketing is about establishing a community and dialogue with your customers.  Especially when it comes to social:  listen to their feedback and use it to make your future content better.

In an era where over 85% of TV viewers skip commercials, content marketing will be critical to success in the near term.  If content marketing is not a current focus, the time is now to add this to the center of your marketing mix.

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