I recently read a post from John Doherty, a man I generally respect, that had me spluttering.  To be entirely fair, 90% of what he said was entirely correct and great advice.  But the one place where he either explained himself badly or made a rookie mistake, was the most fundamental point.

[bctt tweet=”Content Marketing does not mean marketing your content.” username=”_AllThingsWeb”]

I’ve written several articles about this, in various places, across the years.  Yet the issue remains one of the most common fundamental mistakes I see online marketers make.  They assume that content marketing means first you make some content, and then you market it.

This is exactly the same as thinking that search marketing means first you build a search engine and then you market it.  Or thinking that print marketing means first you print something, and then you market it.  It’s completely missing the point.  It is putting the whole thing backwards.

If you start out with content, i.e. content is your fundamental product, then marketing it is not content marketing, it’s just marketing.  If you have to create the content, think why you did so – and that, dear reader, is the marketing.  The marketing told you what content you needed to create, in what form and medium, to effectively transmit your marketing message.

Marketing, via content.  Not marketing of content.

The entire point of content marketing is that sometimes you have a product that is hard to market directly – or rather, is hard to make attractive in itself.  So instead, you take something that people always want – content – and build your marketing into it.  The content is merely the medium – the entire point was the marketing, the message put into that content, like the medicine put into a sugar cube.

People will readily take and swallow your content, and in doing so, they swallow down that marketing goodness they would have rejected if it had come from more overt marketing, like a sales pitch.

Let me give a couple of real-world examples to show exactly what is meant.

One of our clients is an office furniture supplier, and when looking at the general market for office furniture, I couldn’t help but notice that the market is dominated by cheap, mass producer and distributor brands.  IKEA, Argos, Staples and Amazon are all in the business of turning up in searches for office furniture.

Perhaps your average SEO might immediately be trying to work out how to rank higher than those brands, calculating how to build up links and authority.  But they’d be missing one really fundamental point – the cheapness.  Yes, you could compete hard for bottom-dollar sales.

I instead took that observation:  People are buying cheap.  Cheap means minimal profit margins.  Sure, its a lot of those minimal margins, but each individually isn’t worth much.  You have to do huge volume, and be geared for that volume the way IKEA and Amazon and Argos are for it to be decently profitable.

So, because I’m a marketer, I looked for the marketing angle.

Give people a solid reason not to buy cheap.  Give them a strong case to choose not to buy from Argos or Amazon or IKEA, not because they never heard of them, and not because they are going to magically forget those brands do cheap furniture, but because of smarter marketing.

So, I created content that was built to transmit my marketing message – that there are very good solid reasons to carefully not buy cheap.

Here, take a look at a well researched and well reasoned argument, built with a real marketing objective and you should see what I mean: Studies Show False Economy of Cheap Office Furniture.

Like all good marketing, it is all grounded in true, verifiable details.  In fact, you can instantly recognize the truth yourself that we all know, as employees, when our employers have bought cheap, and we know how that makes us feel valued.  Marketing is first and foremost a profession of truth (or at least, truthiness).

Now, of course, John Doherty is correct that if I merely publish the piece of marketing content and forget to distribute it, get it seen, cite it, and build further guest content out there that can naturally demand I cite it, I’d be failing.  But you can clearly see that’s just distribution.  The marketing was what created, shaped, and founded the content itself.

Of course I need to have a strategy around my content marketing, and produce further works that strengthen the core message that people can significantly boost productivity by spending a little more on better office furnishings.

That one piece is merely one part of an ongoing strategy – the first anchor point in a marketing campaign around making a proportion of the market more discerning, willing to spend a little more to do things right.

That, is what Content Marketing really is.

Darn good, solid, well-thought-out, marketing, done via content.

If you’d like this level of thought and care in your own content marketing campaigns, or if you’d like training in how to do better content marketing yourself, give us a call, with no obligations, to discuss your needs.

+44 1793 766040

If you’d just like some more free tips about content marketing, and how it plays into your broader marketing strategies, why not try these videos:

The Fundamentals of Online Content Marketing (Part of the series: The Fundamentals of Online Marketing)

Content Marketing: How to Create a Strategy (Part of an ongoing SEMrush series on Content Marketing)