Content marketing: a beginners guide

February 9, 2012

Content marketing provides free media-type content to customers in exchange for their attention, a very different value proposition to traditional advertising, as we will explore…

With traditional ads, companies create content that breaks in on customers’ attention in the form of billboards, magazine ads, TV commercials, radio ads, etc. Each of these advertisements interrupts customers as they’re doing something else, such as watching a TV show or driving down the street. The ads don’t provide any value to customers, and they don’t offer any inherent reason for customers to view them.

Instead, they interrupt customers at a time when hopefully they won’t be able to get up and do something else. Traditional ads rely on good placement, clever wording, and exceptional creativity to capture customers’ attention for a brief period of time. The goal is for the ads to be clever enough to capture a few seconds of attention that will hopefully be enough time to communicate the brands message.

It’s a difficult proposition that leads to three fatal flaws for traditional advertising:
1. Ads only capture customers’ attention for a brief period of time, if that.
2. Ads interrupt customers instead of providing something of value.
3. Ads end up being very expensive, especially if the campaigns are unsuccessful.

But now there is an alternative – a way to reach customers without interrupting them! It’s called content marketing. Content marketing provides media-type content that customers want in exchange for permission to market a product or service to them.

Here’s how it works:
With content marketing, instead of developing ads that interrupt customers, companies create content such as:

  • Blog posts
  • Podcast recordings (.mp3s)
  • White papers & downloadable guides
  • Infographics
  • Youtube videos that benefit customers and provide value

This value can be provided in two ways: as educational content and as entertainment content. In either case, customers have free access to content that provides value and you’re promoting your brand, keeping your name out there and converting customers into loyal followers. It’s a win-win.