What is and isn’t Marketing Content?

You already know the importance of content marketing. It’s the jewel in the crown of inbound marketing; a way to attract, engage, and delight your audience. But when it comes down to actually creating that marketing content, where do you start? What exactly is content? 

What is Content?

a person consuming too much contentAt its most basic description, content is a deliverable built around the ethos of your brand. In other words, it’s virtually anything–online or offline–that builds awareness, stimulates interest, and eventually, generates consideration for purchase. While that means content can be text-based or multimedia, it also means it has to fit inside of a concept. What is that concept? Your brand story. 

Content helps leverage everything your brand does–sans its product or service–into awareness, consideration, and action. For instance, your brand story itself is content; you’re not selling it and it helps add value to your audiences’ lives. It’s important to remember that the most effective marketing content is relatable, consistent, and relevant. That means before you create content, you have to know for whom you’re creating it. 

That also means content can take many forms. For B2B content, the audience is the decision-makers. That means B2B content marketing is inherently more technical in nature: whitepapers, infographics, and manuals are at the forefront of B2B content marketing strategy. On the other hand, B2C content can be either technical or broad. Since each customer is his or her own decision-maker, that also means B2C content has to have a more specific scope. 

Content intended to appeal to everyone won’t appeal to anyone. Figure out who you want to attract, engage, and delight, as well as how to do so, and you’ll have your roadmap for creating stimulating, effective content to grow your brand. 

What Isn’t Marketing Content?

an open laptop surrounded by emoji iconsThe product or service your business or brand sells isn’t content. However, anything that complements that product or service–could technically be considered marketing content. For example, a box of Cracker Jacks isn’t content–but the toys inside are. Not only does including toys in its product exemplify the CJ brand but it facilitates awareness, engagement, and consideration for purchase. 

Another important distinction between content marketing and advertising is that the latter includes a call to action (buy now, sign up, learn more, etc). An advertisement exists with a specific purpose. A piece of content, however, lacks a call to action because it isn’t engineered as a direct facilitator of sales. Instead, pieces of content work together to indirectly engineer sales by establishing a relationship built around education and trust. 

The role of content marketing is to provide solutions to real problems, identify new and insightful angles, and to become a valuable resource in the marketplace. That last part is especially important–you want your brand to not only be a transactional resource but a life resource. You want your audience to feel like they’re genuinely a part of your brand, and content marketing–not advertising–can help foster that sense of authentic connection. 

What is the Difference Between Content and Advertising?

an infographic showing the different kinds of digital marketing content across channels like social media and email marketing.Anything that directly calls your customers to action–primarily in a sales setting–isn’t content. It’s advertising. The most important distinction between the two is that while advertising exists exclusively to promote a product or service, content exists to build meaningful relationships. In other words, advertising sells one product. Content has the potential to sell infinite products. 

Another way of putting it is advertising is selling fish–while content marketing is showing how to fish, how to prepare different kinds of fish, why fish are good to eat, etc. Consider this: while paid advertising is widely considered the most overrated digital marketing tactic, content marketing is among the most effective

Advertising helps sell products, but content marketing builds relationships. Most people don’t wake up one day and decide to buy a particular product. Content indirectly steers your audience to purchases they didn’t know they needed. To that end, effective content marketing helps establish trust–the most important variable when making a purchase–that advertising doesn’t. If your customers trust you, they’ll buy from you. 

Start Creating Marketing Content Today!

While advertising and content marketing are vastly different, one important similarity sticks out: anyone can do either. That means there’s no better time than right now to go out and create the content your audience is hungry for. Just remember–advertisements sell, but content sells itself. 

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