Content has always been a part of marketing. B2B technology marketing in particular relies heavily on content like white papers, demonstrations and case studies to explain the technology.
This fact leaves some marketers wondering about the distinction between marketing with content and content marketing.
To my mind, the difference lies in two key areas: strategy and perspective.
Not just content: strategy
I’ve heard it said that content marketing is simply another term for blogging. Yikes. That’s like saying that running shoes are a fitness training regimen.
Blogging is a key part of many content marketing strategies — not a replacement for strategy.
Content marketing is the strategic and intentional creation of content that is valuable and compelling for the audience you want to reach, at the times they need it. It requires a firm understanding of buyers’ specific needs at each phase of the journey. It’s not just about having more content.
Here’s how Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, defines content marketing in his excellent book Epic Content Marketing.
“Content marketing is the marketing and business process for creating and distributing valuable and compelling content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience— with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”
A matter of perspective
The other key differentiator is perspective – and that shows up in the types of content that you create. While traditional marketing content is created from the business perspective with the objective of making the sale, content marketing requires you to understand the buyer’s perspective.
You develop buyer personas because you need to understand and address the customer’s needs. Using that perspective, you can create content that educates, informs or entertains those personas, rather than simply selling. Content marketing is about finding the alignment between the customers’ needs and your business, and being generous with content.
Michael Brenner published a post recently on the 3 Vs of content marketing (riffing on the famous 3 Vs of Big Data, I believe.) He suggests that effective content marketing starts with value, then adds volume and variety.
I couldn’t agree more — start with the value you deliver to the customer or prospect. To provide value, you have to look at the world from the customer’s perspective.
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