“Content Marketing” is an industry term that is part of the lexicon (library) of marketing lingo.
That’s great if you have a degree in Marketing. But if you don’t have a background or training in marketing, then the term doesn’t always make sense. And it can throw you off before you even start learning about the method.
And I want to make sure you don’t get stuck here at the beginning of your learning about this method.
Because content marketing is a very effective method, and it’s a method that small businesses are able to learn and use to steadily grow their businesses.
So let’s clear up any confusion that could exist about the name of the method.
A Working Definition of Content Marketing
Below is the working definition of Content Marketing. It’s the definition I teach to all my clients and it’s what we use to verify that all the content marketing we create is ready to do its work.
The beauty of this definition is that
1) it explains what Content Marketing “is” … and
2) it serves as a guide to help you produce every single piece of your content marketing.
Read the definition. Write it by hand in a notebook or on a post-it note (writing by hand increases retention). Tuck a copy in your calendar or agenda book.
Keep it handy and refer to it often!
The Definition of Content Marketing:
- Any text, image, audio or video,
- Created by you and your team,
- Using your unique, original voice and style,
- That offers something of authentic value,
- To your current or future customer.
I’m going to expand on each of the five points in the definition below. As you learn content marketing refer back to this definition again and again. It’s the foundation of all you will do!
What Do We Mean When We Say “Content”
Before we can talk about “Content Marketing” we need to talk about the term “Content”. What do we mean when we say “Content”?
“Content” is another term used in the marketing industry.
FYI the term “content” is also used in the events industry to refer to education, demonstrations, meet-and-greets, and other activities that take place at a show or festival. Just something to be aware of :).
In the world of Content Marketing, the term “Content” refers to all of the material that is created and used to connect customers with the creator of the content (the business or organization).
Content can be any of the following:
- Text (Written Words)
- Images (Photos, Drawings, Graphics, Art)
- Audio (Spoken Words, Podcasts, Music)
- Video (Film, IGTV, Videos on YouTube, Facebook Live)
Did you notice all the different types of content on that list?
People often think that content marketing means “they will have to blog.” Far from it! Content is a vast, creative space! It includes images, audio, and video of all kinds. Plus lots of ways to use text other than “blogs.” There are many, many types of content. Text content is only one of four primary types of content!
We Are Creative By Nature
The second part of the definition talks about content that is “created by” you or your team.
If you are thinking “I am NOT creative” then stick with me please.
Everyone is creative.
Being creative is not our real problem. The problem is we get out of practice with being creative. And we also don’t really know what “creative” looks like, which is a perception issue. So those are the items that need addressed, not a problem with whether or not you are creative.
When I work with clients this question of “am I creative” is one of the things we work on. In my course I include two books that we work from. I definitely recommend that you get these two books. They are very simple and easy to use. You can complete them quickly, and you can refer back to them frequently. In time, by getting these ideas into your mind you will find you have tons of creativity inside of you and it’s very excited to “get out” into the real world.
The books are both children’s books. I know that seems counterintuitive. But they work. Working from children’s books is actually one of the best ways to get started learning something. (I need to write an article about this topic, and I will, but for the time being give these two books a try.
By the way the links to purchase the books will take you to a website called BookShop. BookShop is an exciting new way to buy books that supports small business. When you buy from BookShop you are supporting local bookstores. Since I’m a small business and my clients and students are small businesses – I think it’s important that we shop small whenever we can. Additionally these links are not affiliate links. I make my living through working directly with clients and we do not use affiliate links here on the SarahGalbraithLaucks.com website.
Books to Jump Start Your Creative Awareness:
- The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds. “With a simple, witty story and free-spirited illustrations, Peter H. Reynolds entices even the stubbornly uncreative among us to make a mark — and follow where it takes us.” Buy at BookShop.org.
- The Dot: Make Your Mark Kit. Also by Peter H. Reynolds. Everything you need to practice being creative in an easy, non-scary way that has nothing to do with your business – and in that way actually helps you learn to exercise your creativity in your content. Buy at BookShop.org.
A Unique Voice and Style
Do you know what makes a brand stand out? Being different. Breaking the rules. Choosing a new path.
That “being different” thing is what comes from learning to understand your unique voice and celebrating your personal style.
Because there is only one you. And only one of your company. You have a unique voice and style. And as the founder or marketer for your company, you convey that unique voice and style to your business. That unique voice means you stand out in the crowd.
It takes a little time to get comfortable with your voice. It definitely improves with time :). The more content you create, the better it gets.
Celebrate all that makes you different. Because it’s the path to helping your business stand out. It’s what will attract customers, followers, clients.
There will come a time when someone will tell you to change what you’re doing. They’ll refer to “the rules” or say something like “well … no one else does it that way.” What that will actually mean is that you’re doing a good job of being unique in your voice and style. And it will be a great message to you to stay true to your path and keep doing what you’re doing.
Offer Something of Authentic Value
This part of the content marketing definition is REALLY important.
The content you create must offer something of “authentic value” to the recipient.
Offering authentic value is what makes content marketing really tick. Makes it really work at drawing in your audience and helping your business to grow.
Authentic value does not mean you need to write big long blog articles. FAR from it!
Here are a few examples of authentic value content:
- Customer testimonials – helps another customer decide if they should buy a product
- FAQ – answers to the common questions customers keep asking
- Your contact details – yup, contact details are content, because people need to know how to reach you
- About your company – also content, tell the story of who you are, what you do, and why you do it
- Favorite quotes – pick the ones that really connect to your mission as a business
- Photos – of your products, of your service, of people enjoying what you do
- How to’s – people appreciate help knowing how to do things (like using your product or service at home)
- Music – got a catchy tune – stream it onto a post on your website
- Recipes – especially original recipes created by you
- Events you plan to attend
- Links to news articles about you and your business
- And the list goes on
Start to see what I mean? Content is all around you!
Last Point – Content Is For Your Current or Future Customer
This point seems obvious. But it is good to come back to it and remind ourselves.
Keep your customer ever present in your mind as you create your content. Your content is created with them in mind. What do they need to know? What information will help them? What questions are they asking that need answered? What do you know that they don’t know – and wouldn’t think to ask (answering that question is a great way to create value content)?
As you go forth and start creating content keep your customers in mind. When you’re not sure what to say in your content, look to them. They will guide the way :).
Now we know what Content Marketing “is”.
We have a definition that also works as a guide.
We have taken a closer look at each of the 5 components of the definition.
We’re ready for the next step!
The next step in understanding the basics of Content Marketing is to take a look at how exactly does content marketing “work”.
I’m working on an article about that topic for you right now. If you’d like to receive an email notification when it’s live, send me a quick message using the Contact Form.