What is Content Marketing?

September 11, 2012

Carol Stuckey

Carol Stuckey

Content marketing is not a new concept. Television and radio stations, newspapers, and magazines have been generating sales based on content all along. But technology has changed the way content is produced and consumed, making it much easier and more commonplace for companies to produce their own content for consumption by the general public.

Content marketing is. . .

Content marketing is the production and dissemination of interesting content for the purpose of generating inbound leads or, simply put, posting digital content to attract people to your website. This content could be in the form of videos, e-books, blogs, newsletters, social media posts, case studies, podcasts, webinars, infographics, Q&As, reviews—whatever makes the most sense for the industry in which you operate.

Search engines love content, especially new content. So publishing timely, relevant content with appropriate keywords can help your website rise in the ranks of search engine result pages, making it easier for prospective customers to find you when searching for keywords related to your business.

Learn from example

The easiest way to understand content marketing is to observe companies who do it well. And there are a number to choose from.

One of my favorites is HubSpot, a marketing software company that produces massive amounts of marketing “how to” content in the form of white papers and e-books. HubSpot posts links to the content on its social media platforms, leading viewers back to its website where, after supplying a few contact details, the free content can be downloaded. Somewhere in the free content, you’ll find a reference to the all-in-one marketing software HubSpot sells, but it is not the focus of the content. To get a sense for how this works, follow @HubSpot on Twitter.

Another often-recognized leader in content marketing is American Express, specifically its Open Forum. In the Open Forum, small business owners can find tips and expertise to help manage, market, operate, and finance their businesses. The forum is hosted and branded by American Express, reinforcing their positioning as providing helpful support and products to small business owners.

Urbane Apartments in Detroit, Michigan, provides a good example of content marketing in an industry where you might think content marketing would be irrelevant or difficult to implement. As described in a recent New York Times blog post, Eric Brown, president of Urbane Apartments, set out to market his apartments on a budget, leveraging search engine optimization and social media tactics.

The key to his success is the hip blog he created on the Urbane Apartments website, the Urbane Life. The blog content focuses not on publicizing his apartments, but on offering the best tips regarding what Detroit has to offer in terms of restaurants, arts, and entertainment. As a result of the blog and other promotional activities, the website receives an extraordinary number of unique visitors and followers on social media for a real estate-related website.

In next month’s part two of this series on content marketing, we’ll explore ideas on how to get started.

Marketing seminars

Carol Stuckey teaches the Harvard professional development programs Introduction to Digital Marketing and Marketing Strategy.

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