A lot is written about content marketing these days, so much in fact that you are at risk of being completely bamboozled and wondering whether what you’re distributing to your audience right or wrong, or if there even is such a thing when it comes to something as flexible and variable as content marketing.
Recently, Mark Ritson famously stirred the whole content marketing debate by asking one very simple and pertinent question: Is content marketing a load of bollocks?
Unsurprisingly, this article prompted a lot of debate and to my mind, as with many contentious issues, there really is no right answer, just personal opinion.
And here’s what I think:
To me it seems that the very term “content marketing” is the source of much of the cynicism surrounding the content discipline because many would argue, not incorrectly in my opinion, that “content marketing” is not actually anything new but simply part of what marketing actually is and always has been.
But here’s the thing. Does it really matter what term we use to describe what we currently refer to as “content marketing”? Should we really be arguing the merits of “content marketing” as a standalone marketing activity, or whether or not it should have its own dedicated institute, books, online guides etc?
Personally, and as a content writer myself, I couldn’t care less what name people want to apply to the activity of content production. Is storytelling preferable for example? If so, I’m happy to go with that – or any other term in a similar vein for that matter.
My point is simply that while we can dispute the terminology that surrounds content marketing, I still believe that content is “a very real thing” and a genuine standalone marketing function. Why? Because I don’t recall brand building marketing campaigns around great, original, and unique content even 5 years ago.
So here they are – the 5 reasons that content really does matter:
I believe that great content really does matter for brands and I don’t believe for a second that it’s just a load of nonsense. The world we live in is an incredibly interactive one where the consumer holds incredible power as a result of social media, blogging, and reviews & ratings and as a result, consumers are incredibly suspicious and intolerant when it comes to brand messaging.
This means that brands now have to be very clever in how they portray their message. That’s for, for the 5 following reasons, I would argue that content now matters more than ever before:
1. It separates you from your competitors
If content marketing was just a load of rubbish then why is that some brands are so much better than their competitors are at creating unique, viral content (yes it’s still marketing but it is very specifically content related). Good examples of this are Gillette Shave Club Vs Dollar Shave Club, Charmin Vs Any other toilet paper brand!
2. It can really build your audience and profile
Great content is content which expertly engages the end user by demonstrating a completely unique personality and tone of voice that reflects the target audience and in the process gets them on board as brand advocates.
3. It encourages engagement and participation when it comes to online sharing
Brands that create great, unique, fun and engaging content that taps into human empathy can often prove to be a winner when it comes to views, shares, likes, retweets.
A campaign that captures the public imagination in this way can lead to incredible brand advocacy and online publicity that gives global exposure. For examples, look at West Jet Christmas Miracle, Starbucks Red Cup Contest, Chipotle Behind The Scenes
4. It shows off your brand’s unique personality and builds trust
Yes, for all of the reasons above, great content (that is content that is well thought out, planned, created for a purpose and created with a specific target audience in mind!), can have a wide range of benefits for a brand and very often, at a very low cost relative to the number of people reached.
5. It’s great for SEO and a great source of traffic to your website
The goal of every website is to generate the maximum traffic possible – not only because more traffic invariably results in more on-site actions (ie sales and enquiries), it also has enormous benefits in the area of SEO. At the end of the day, every brand is focused on building and developing website traffic so if a great piece of content can help to achieve this, then clearly great content is worth its weight in gold.