Content marketing is providing valuable content to our prospects and customers. Not a new marketing channel, but one that has gained significant traction in the last decade.
It’s a channel worth consideration from all marketers. It can be, and is, used by companies of all sizes. It can be used across many forms of media. Also, it has proven itself a channel that generates a positive ROI.
Here, we will take a look at an overview of content marketing.
What is Content Marketing?
Content Marketing Institute offers us the most thorough definition of content marketing.
“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” – Content Marketing Institute
This definition, and the use of content marketing, is becoming a common and widely accepted tool in all marketer’s toolboxes.
It is a tool that can be used across a customer’s journey and lifecycle. From initial awareness of your company, to converting to a customer, and turning customers into advocates. It can play a role throughout the entire process.
This channel has proven itself to generate a positive ROI. Prospects, and customers, seek good and valuable content. And, it is a marketing tactic that big and small brands have equal access to.
Making the strategic decision to use content marketing might generate the business growth you need, while delighting prospects and customers at the same time.
An Early Content Marketing Example
Content marketing has gained significant traction in the last decade. But, it’s not new. If it is not new, then the question is, when do we see the first examples?
If you have been to Europe and asked where a good place to eat was, then you may be referred to an eating guide. Usually, that guide is the Michelin Restaurant Guide.
Which, has been around since the early days of the automobile.
How is this content marketing?
Well, the guide was developed by the Michelin Brothers, which is a tire company, to provide customers a place to go in their cars. And, to motivate them to use their cars. This would ultimately benefit the company, because driving on tires will wear them out. Then they need new tires.
So, Michelin would review restaurants and provide a rating system. This is the famous one-star to three-star rating system they use today. Which is based on the distance they believed a customer should travel to dine in the particular restaurant.
One-star being the equivalent of if the restaurant is in your town. And three-star being that you should go out of your way and travel to visit the restaurant.
The Michelin guide became so popular, that it is the restaurant guide that most European countries follow religiously.
Now, we may still ask, how this is content marketing?
The Michelin Guide fits our definition of content marketing, because the Michelin Brothers strategically created a guide of restaurants. This is their content. The guide provided value to their customers in giving them places to dine that came highly recommended. Then, the result of using the guide was using the Michelin tires. Thus, creating a profitable customer interaction.
Content marketing is not a new strategy. This is an example long before the internet. It has just gained popularity since the internet makes distribution easier. We do not even need to base our efforts on internet distribution. This just tends to be the most efficient method.
The Michelin Guide teaches us that content marketing has historical examples. And, if we are creative, we can use it as a method across all types of industries.
Types of Content Marketing
Using the Michelin Guide example, we can see that content marketing can be applied to mediums other than the internet. So, it makes sense to take a look at the types of content marketing we have access to.
We can use online, offline, television, radio, and any other medium we can think of that provides valuable content to our prospects and customers. Some of the most common mediums we use are the following.
Building a website is a medium with one of the lowest barriers to entry. It is cheap. And basically, everyone with access to a computer and an internet connection can create one.
Building a website also includes building a blog. For our discussion here, these are essentially one in the same. The name at which we use is just slightly different.
A website and blog are an excellent vehicle to begin delivering value to your target audience.
With platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram, video is a great medium. These platforms make distribution easy. And, there is a built-in audience on each platform.
Depending on your product, and how your prospects and customers consume media, video might be an excellent strategy.
If your prospects and customers are book readers, publishing a book can be a great way to provide value to your audience. In the last decade, it has become easier to publish books in print. And, eBooks are about as easy to publish as creating a website.
Creating valuable content by publishing books can drive the ROI you are looking for in your content marketing.
Whitepapers are effective pieces of content that can be used as a lead magnet. Again, this is a way to package case studies, industry studies, and any other forms of valuable content your prospect and customers can use.
Seeing is believing. A picture is worth a thousand words. Cliché’s that we can use as the foundation of our content marketing strategy.
This can be a great medium for retail or fashion companies. Or, any business where visuals are important.
Going back to traditional print, a printed magazine can be a medium with its place in your content marketing strategy. A medium that is great for a coffee table, an office lobby, the beach, or sitting by the pool.
Depending on your business, this is another type of content marketing that works.
Podcasts, which can be considered the mobile devices take on radio, is a great medium to generate value. Podcasts are a medium that allow our prospects and customers to consume our content in a variety of settings.
For companies who have busy prospects and customers, a podcast can be an ideal way to reach them.
Content marketing has many types and can be executed on many mediums. And with many having low barriers to entry, we do not need to limit ourselves to one medium. Consider the options, look at how to best reach your customers, then choose the best ways to execute your strategy.
Great Content Marketing Examples
We looked at a classic content marketing example with the Michelin Guide. But, let’s take a look at some modern content marketing examples.
There are a lot of companies that do a lot of great content marketing. Here are a few examples of companies that have great strategies, and companies that I found because of their content.
Content Marketing Institute
The Content Marketing Institute basically wrote the book popularizing the channel. Both by writing an actual book and building the Content Marketing Institute website, that exemplifies their ability to execute.
The Content Marketing Institute blog, guides, and offers provide everything you need to know to implement a successful strategy.
Seeing as this is their niche, it makes sense they execute a successful strategy.
HubSpot, which is a marketing automation software, uses content marketing to drive a lot of their marketing strategy. Looking at their blog, they have excellent blog posts for every stage of the buyer’s journey. And, they have guides, eBooks, checklists, and whitepapers to provide in-depth analysis.
HubSpot uses their blog and website to drive their content strategy. And, they are one of the best executers of that strategy.
Unbounce, which is a landing page building software, uses various channels. One in particular is their Podcast, Call to Action. Unbounce effectively uses their Podcast to drive awareness.
This is using content marketing, but not using the most common blog channel to drive traffic and awareness. Although, they do effectively use this channel as well.
Chubbies, which is a men’s shorts brand, effectively uses Instagram as their primary channel for their content strategy. Although, they did begin with their website and creating funny theories about shorts. They have since used Instagram to execute their content strategy.
Chubbies features their customers as the primary content. This is key, as it is involving customers to drive awareness. And, they are retaining customers, because their customers feel involved.
Chubbies is another example of a company using a channel other than a blog to drive their content strategy.
Content marketing is an important channel for most businesses. It is not new, but we have more channels at our disposal than ever before. It is good to understand the channel and how it can fit into your marketing strategy.