Savvy marketers no longer depend solely on traditional advertising in traditional media to reach their audience. Creating and managing their own branded media — from e-media to print magazines and from video to iPad apps –marketers now are learning that content is the glue holding their marketplaces together. Since our own Rex Hammock helped to create what is now the largest content marketing trade group in the United States, the Custom Content Council, we asked him to answer one simple question that we get asked a lot these days: “What exactly is content marketing?”
Simply put, content marketing refers to all the traditional and new ways organizations are today communicating with their customers (or members, supporters, etc.) that go beyond what many marketers used to think was the only way of communicating: advertising.
Content marketing is a recognition that we live in a world where you can’t succeed by merely creating a 30-second TV spot or a one-page advertisement. Content marketing goes far beyond those to include the information, data, stories, images, videos, games, news, events and more that serve as the glue holding together the participants of a marketplace.
(See accompanying box: “Marketing Media’s Content Toolbox”)
While that may be the “simply put” version, in reality, the term “content marketing” is a very big umbrella that covers a very wide array of trends and and emerging influences. The Internet, and the way it has changed how people connect with one-another and with the organizations they support, is the biggest influence on marketers’ recognition that micro-messages limited to a few seconds or a few sentences are no longer enough.
Organizations and their audiences are participants in a marketplace of shared interests and needs. Marketers want more and more information about their customers. And customers are exerting more and more control over how products are defined in the marketplace. We no longer live in a world of buyers and sellers, creators and consumers. With the Internet, consumers have the ability to “make or break” a product in lightening speed.
And, over the next few years, the role that consumers (or association members) will play in creating products, defining brands and setting organizational policy will continue to grow.
When your marketplace requires such mutual cooperation, you learn that it is critical to utilize as many ways as possible to communicate with and engage your audience.
And that’s where content marketing — the way we define it at Hammock — comes in: thinking beyond the traditional ideas of what marketing and media are. Finding new approaches, new tools, new channels to build stronger relationships.
That’s content marketing.