So Just What is Content Marketing……And are YOU Doing it Right??

Wikipedia’s definition of “Content Marketing(as of this moment of writing)is; any marketing that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire and retain customers. Content marketing is also defined as 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.

The phrase “content marketing” was largely established by Joe Pulizzi. He created the Content Marketing Institute, which sells — of course — “content marketing training,” as well as tickets to the Content Marketing World conference. Sounds like creating a buzz phrase to capitalize build interest then provide the means to pass the necessary information on to those businesses, who will pay for the latest and greatest tool to market their products!

The use of these and other buzzwords has caused a new generation of marketers to enter the field without knowing even the basic terms and practices that underpin the established marketing industry. The result is that too many tech marketers (Again, a “Today’s Catch Phrase”) are basing their work on faulty premises, hurting the traditional marketing profession and flooding the Internet with spammy “content.” To understand where the marketing world went wrong, let’s first compare how marketing departments operated before and after the mass adoption of the Internet.

Imagine that it is the year 1996. Remember, this was 20 years ago! What did traditional marketing departments think about? The four Ps. The promotion mix. Communications strategies. SWOT analyses. The five forces. Building brands. Then, by 2006, what did digital marketing teams think about? High Google rankings and more website traffic. Getting Facebook “likes” and Twitter followers. Keyword density. Building links.

“Marketing departments” were using professional strategies that had been developed over many decades. “Online marketing departments” were calling themselves “marketers,” but did not even know what every 18-year-old marketing student in business school knows. Two very different teams were doing two very different things.

Online marketers should have … started to practice real marketing and brand building.
In the following years, however, online marketing changed. Google got better at stopping artificial attempts to manipulate rankings. Brands started to have to pay to have any Facebook reach. Most links to startups’ websites had always come simply as natural by-products of news coverage and publicity efforts and not SEO-type link building, as a March 2016 study by Credo founder John Doherty published on Moz found.

While all of these changes were occurring, online marketers should have discarded their imitation marketing and started to practice real marketing and brand building.

But “inbound marketers” had always been wrongly declaring — without any proof or evidence — that “outbound” strategies such as advertising, PR and publicity were “dead so, they still needed to differentiate themselves somehow to remain relevant and keep their staff salaries, client retainers and software users.

The digital marketing world instead responded by coining new buzzwords for existing practices to make it seem as though they were doing something new and different. “Content marketing” arrived shortly after online marketers began to utter the single stupidest phrase that has ever existed in the entire history of marketing:

“Content is king!”
Anyone who needed to be convinced of the truth of that statement has no business working in the marketing industry. Content is at the heart of today’s marketing strategies as businesses use websites and blogs to demonstrate their own expertise and product knowledge.

The way “Content” is displayed in any marketing endeavor goes a long way to making an impact on how your message is received! Whether it’s an image of a small horse being ignored by the rest of his companions, to a well-known actor being mistaken for Antonio Banderas in a beer commercial… These types of marketing ploys make an impact on an audience. This same type of impact is crucial to any marketer who is trying to generate interest in a company’s brand or featured “The Must Have Product for the Holidays!!!”

Marketing has always been the creation of a message, the insertion of that message into a piece of content and the transmission of that content over a channel to an audience in an effort to build brands, increase demand and move people down sales funnels. The same is true today — the only differences are that we have two additional sets of available channels, called the Internet and mobile devices, and those channels allow for a greater variety of content formats.

In the 1950s, a marketer may have created a message about a product and then put that message into a print advertisement that was then transmitted through a newspaper. Today, a marketer may create a message about a product and put that message into a video that would then be transmitted through YouTube.

The tools and channels change, but the process remains the same. “Content marketers” are doing nothing different from what creative teams have always done. In the SEO community specifically, more marketing software tools and digital marketing agencies are beginning to understand the negative effect of buzzwords as they rebrand themselves away from “SEO” and more toward “marketing.”

In the end, all marketing is “content marketing” because all marketing uses content. Most people who use the generic word “content” are unsure of what they are precisely doing. If it is an advertisement, say so. If it is sales collateral for a direct marketing campaign, say so. If it’s a publicity video, say so. Defining a creative precisely will help you to know the best practices for that specific type of message.

Remember Creative Content comes at a price. Creativity can NOT be scaled, that is why you pay more when you hire someone or a team to create ‘Spot-On” content ideas and themes for your company’s products and then promote them! If today’s marketers do not change their mindsets, they will continue to treat “content” as the “widgets” of a business school and spam the Internet with garbage as they try to publish more and more “content” at a cheaper and cheaper cost. They do this because it seems a greater number of company’s owners or small business owners especially eCommerce store owners what more at a lesser cost. Remember that old adage, “You get what you pay for”??? This is a phrase that you should always be aware of.
Keep in mind what we said a little bit ago. Creative Content comes at a price. Creativity can NOT be scaled!

Still, today’s tech-marketer or eCommerce store owner seems like they have no patience for the time it takes to build strong brands, (Your Store Name) which is what advertising — and publicity, (today’s social media/internet) to a lesser extent — has always done. Marketers need direct responses in the form of track-able sales, leads, downloads and installations as quickly as possible to satisfy impatient store owners and potential investors.

The direct ROI of advertising and publicity campaigns are extremely difficult to measure with any degree of precision and do not typically deliver immediate returns. The tech world increasingly demands direct marketing metrics for all marketing and PR work, but it’s difficult to determine direct and immediate ROI from brand marketing campaigns.

One example is when people want direct marketing metrics, such as “How many customers did we get?” from publicity work such as getting news coverage or contributing articles to publications. The number of customers that come from an article’s referral traffic will usually be low. Direct marketing and publicity are two different things that are used for different purposes for different goals, and some of the goals of such articles are to increase brand awareness and thought leadership (and those cannot be measured). Assigning the wrong goals to the wrong functions is one mistake that occurs when online marketers do not know the foundations of traditional marketing.

The positive side of direct marketing is that it is easy to track results. The negative side is that it is boring to create and invasive to receive. People tolerate offline advertising; people hate online advertising. Why? Most online advertising is actually direct marketing — and people hate direct marketing whether it is junk mail in their mailboxes, junk email in their inboxes or junk ads that target them on social media or follow them around the Internet.

So, how do you get your own marketing campaign on the right track? Sometimes it means getting back to the basics. You need creative people, a good theme or product to promote and the talent to push/promote your message out to today’s audience. You need to use the tools available to you, which means all the social avenues available, like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and anything else that comes down the pike.. But no matter what avenue you use to promote your marketing theme,,,,,, make sure your message sparks an interest that will cause your message to start a bonfire of interest!

As always, if you would like to discuss how Black Arrow Marketing can plan a marketing campaign around your product, corporate identity or brand, you can contact us at: 888.225.4780, or email us at: