Focus on your customers and overall marketing. As a marketer you want to know what works and what your customers need, not the little debates over definitions. Your customers don’t care about your content marketing definition, nor will your CEO. No one is even forced to like or use the term, all that matters are good marketing practices and great customer experiences.
12. Bon Appetit Magazine: Foodcast. Bon Appetit’s podcast “features interviews with chefs, writers, and, well, anyone who has something cool to say about food.” Topics include holiday baking, why chefs hate brunch, and FAQs for Thanksgiving dinner. Not every company needs a podcast, to be sure, but if you can schedule great guests and figure out the tech specs, this can be a meaningful channel to engage with storytellers over the long term.
As a marketing technology company, DemandBase has invested a lot of time trying to optimize their content marketing strategy. Rachel Balik, the senior content marketing manager, has provided an overview of the evolution of DemandBase’s content marketing strategy on the company blog. Balik also says that she attends Content Marketing World regularly to learn more about best practices in the industry to improve their overall strategy.
“Content marketing means creating and sharing valuable free content to attract and convert prospects into customers, and customers into repeat buyers. The type of content you share is closely related to what you sell; in other words, you’re educating people so that they know, like, and trust you enough to do business with you.” – Brian Clark, Copyblogger
If Chanel is all about snooty exclusivity, Burberry believes in just the opposite. They are quick to adopt newer platforms and find their audience in the places that they frequent. A stellar example in this regard was the Burberry kisses campaign that they launched in collaboration with Google. The campaign was a pioneer in combining two previously unconnected elements- ease of communication of the web with the universal relatability of a real kiss.
USAA is another example of an insurer that is thinking big, in terms of content. The financial institution has been around for more than 90 years, serving a client base made up primarily of military members, veterans, and their families. It’s a specific audience and one with which USAA knows just how to communicate. But beyond its content hub, USAA Stories, which features family, personal finance, and service-specific topics, as well as newer themes like travel in an effort to attract a broader readership, the company isn’t afraid to explore other forms of content.
During the baby boom era, Kellogg’s began selling sugary cereal to children. With this change in business model came sociable animal mascots, lively animated commercials and the back of the cereal box as a form of targeted content marketing. Infographics were born in this era. This represented a new approach to make a brand memorable with the audience.

The key word here is “valuable.” It’s what changes this definition from one that could describe almost any form of advertising or marketing. You can tell if a piece of content is the sort that could be part of a content marketing campaign if people seek it out, if people want to consume it, rather than avoiding it. So was VW’s 2014 “Game Day” commercial, which has been viewed on YouTube almost 18 million times as of the writing of this post, an ad, or content marketing? The answer is it’s both, depending on how it’s received by each individual who is exposed to it. The same will apply to any piece of content marketing you create, depending on whether the recipient received value from it or not. Of course the goal is to provide as much value from your content marketing to as much of your target audience as possible. At this point, despite this definition and explanation, you’re probably still wondering what exactly content marketing is. We can get more clarity by considering a few examples.
In 1933, Procter & Gamble started to broadcast a radio serial drama sponsored by their Oxydol soap powder. The owners wanted to build brand loyalty by aiming to adult women. They could intermix their marketing messages into the serial drama. The term soap opera was born in this year, and they marked a precedent for native ads. Engagement with the audience was a key element with the creation of this content.
Tiffany’s tumblr page manages to capture the essence of the brand in its entirety. Content on the page communicates the emotion behind a Tiffany purchase along with the allure of its rich legacy. Each post is crafted to express the sense of exclusivity that comes with owning a Tiffany trinket. Tiffany & Co. has crafted a place for itself in the modern fairytale. Their content subliminally translates the same message.
It's content that helps people find you. It might even be content that makes people fall in love with you a little. But discovery-level content is not usually the last touch before a big sale. There are many more layers of content that usually finesse that conversion. (More on that when we discuss how content can represent various stages of the funnel in ch. 3.)
Now that you understand your main audience, place yourself in their shoes. What are they searching for when they need your product or service? Make a list of basic keywords surrounding your brand, as well as any variations (‘New York painters’ and ‘New York painting,’ for example.) You know your niche well, so draw from all possible terms used for what you have to offer. Once you have these keywords, integrate them into your content. There are a few reasons why:
If you thought a company like Twitter doesn’t need content marketing, think again. The social media giant has been building up its Twitter Business Outlook blog with original and licensed content centered on how-tos and best practices for advertising on the platform. After all, while countless other websites and agencies counsel on how to tweet to your fullest potential, where better to hear it than straight from the source?

Content marketing also provides additional benefits in that it supports other digital marketing channels. It provides additional content for social media marketing and contributes to SEO efforts by generating natural inbound links and building up good content on your website that gets found in search engines. In fact, for many companies the bulk of their SEO efforts should be focused on content marketing.
If you’re a small local retailer in bathroom equiment, you may limit yourself to making sure you can answer the questions of your customers and keep them loyal or make them buy more or have more people buy from you (word-of-mouth indeed). But, then again, maybe that local retailer wants to grow and decides to use content for it, which is perfectly possible (no boring or small businesses when it boils down to the possibilities of creating relevant content).
If you’re going to be putting valuable resources into growing your content strategy, then you have to make sure your efforts are actually paying off. The last thing you want is to spend time budgeting for content marketing and then discover later that you don't have any way of knowing whether your investment paid off. Many marketing teams struggle in this area because there are so many different metrics you could track to determine your content’s performance. However, before you can even begin to set these key performance indicators accurately, you must be crystal clear on your purpose for creating content and how it fits within your strategy.

“Making work simpler, more pleasant, and more productive” since 2014, Slack helps business teams communicate and function more efficiently while bringing them closer to their goals. The company’s blog, Several People Are Typing, looks and reads like a top digital magazine while successfully balancing product and company information with a selection of industry stories. And its bi-monthly podcast, “Work in Progress,” explores the meaning and identity we find in work, from the gig economy to Silicon Valley and the corporate world, and how technology is affecting us all.
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