Somehow, "Content Marketing" has hit the jackpot in terms of business memes, with every marketing person tossing the term around like it's some sort of magic elixir.
But what exactly is content marketing? And how do you do it? I've cooked up a list of myths and truths of content marketing to help you wade through the hype.
Myth No. 1: Content Marketing is New
Content marketing is a strategy that's been around for hundreds, if not, thousands of years. The goal in all of its simplicity is to connect with customers by generating inspiring content. All good marketing is content. It's jargon for an age-old process. Remember Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom? That's a great example of sponsored content, underwritten by a lead sponsor for branding purposes.
In fact, you could argue that content marketing dates back to 4200 B.C. The Content Marketing Institute has supplied this nifty chart of content marketing history, showing a timeline. It's interesting to see that the idea of melding publishing to marketing is an age-old corporate concept. For example, in 1895, John Deere launched a custom magazine.
Granted, there are some new angles to content marketing as applied to the Internet and social media, but basically, using custom content to drive corporate marketing is not really a new idea at all.
Truth No. 1: Content Marketing Works
The reason content marketing works, when executed properly, is that, well, people want content. There are many case studies that prove this.
According to Marketingsherpa.com, global tax and consulting firm McGladrey re-architected their Website and increased content production, resulting in a 100 percent increase in web traffic and a $500,000 increase in sales.
Scripted.com ran a study on its own traffic and referral sources, and found 46 percent of referrals came from content-based marketing.
But if I were to pick the giant of content marketing, it's Red Bull. Red Bull produces magazines, specialized websites, events,and interactive advertising campaigns -- all of which tie together under its unifying theme of action sports, which have been a powerful driver of the brand. Some other examples of companies that drove their entire marketing strategy through content marketing, including Mint.com and Hubspot.
Of course, there are cases when it doesn't work. But I would guess that comes in cases when content marketing is poorly executed.
Myth No. 2: You Need a Huge Amount of Money
Most companies that have some kind of marketing budget should have resources available to initiate or improve a content marketing program. The secret is to tap into the resources that are already being used.