Like everything else, marketing is evolving. In recent years it has been increasingly oriented towards the creation of content. We discuss content marketing, the marketing strategy that companies are relying on.
The term "content marketing" was first pronounced in 1996 by journalist John Oppedahl while he was leading a panel discussion at the American Society for Newspaper Editors. Following the roundtable, Rick Doyle, also an american journalist, wrote an article about the debate, which he titled: "Roundtable: Content Marketing".
However, content marketing existed before, even though it didn't have a name.
From John Deere to Michelin: The beginnings of content marketing
The Furrow magazine, born in 1895, is considered to be the first known example of content marketing. The magazine was created by John Deere, leader of Deere & Company, a company that sales agricultural products. Unlike other advertising magazines at that time, The Furrow was not an advertising catalog, but rather a guide for farmers with articles on agriculture. John Deere himself defined it as "a journal for the American farmer".
Five years after the first publication of The Furrow, The Michelin Guide was created, the first copy being published in 1900. Again, instead of directly advertising its tires, Michelin opted for the creation of a book that provided valuable information related to travelling on the road. Michelin's idea was that their guide would encourage people to travel more, which would cause their tires to wear and, therefore, generate sales for the company.
It obviously was a good idea. The Michelin Guide was so successful that it did not only increase Michelin's sales, but also those of establishments —especially restaurants— listed in the guide. More than a century later, Michelin has become the leading authority on restaurant reviews, as well as one of the best examples of how far content marketing can go.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing consists of promoting a brand's products or services indirectly through the publication of content that interests the target audience.
The Content Marketing Institute defines it as "a strategic marketing approach
focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience—and, ultimately, to drive
profitable customer action."
Content marketing's strategy is to attract customers through content that interests them and indirectly relates to the brand. In other words, content marketing is not based on direct advertising of what a brand offers, but quite the opposite. The objective is to connect with potential customers by offering them useful information that responds to their concerns so that, indirectly, they become familiar with the brand and end up considering it as a reference entity in the topic in question.
Thus, according to content marketing philosophy, if a company wants to sell sunglasses, instead of creating a catalog with all its sunglasses, it will create, for example, a tourist guide about the best beaches to go to in summer. A company that wants to sell running shoes can publish an article with 10 tips for runners and an event planning agency can create an e-book with the 50 best events of the year.
Content marketing knows no limits and companies are going for increasingly original content to connect with their customers. What started with paper magazines —first The Furrow and then Michelin Guide— today comes to life in Youtube videos, blog articles, Instagram posts, podcasts, etc.
The importance of content marketing
In recent years, content marketing has been positioning itself as the strategy to follow for most companies. Customers do not trust direct advertising and consume more digital content.
According to a report published by Edelman in 2021, 54% of business decision makers spend more than one hour a week reviewing content.
Recent research on the state of content marketing provides several interesting insights to consider:
In addition, Semrush reports that almost half of all companies plan to grow their content creation team during 2022.
All of this indicates that content marketing is here to stay. At least for a few more years.
5 tips for an efficient content marketing strategy
The proliferation of content marketing has increased the difficulty for companies to produce relevant content that attracts the right customer.
A good content marketing strategy must meet the following premises.
1. Create content that adds value
Remember that content marketing must be customer-centric. That is, content should focus on the customer, not on the brand or the products it sells.
Many companies make the mistake of creating content about the products or services they want to sell. Doing so goes against the philosophy of content marketing, which is based on creating content that provides value to consumers.
Customers are smart and can tell when a brand is trying to sell, even if the selling is hidden behind a misleading title.
According to Edelman, 71% of business decision makers believe that half or more than half of the content they read does not add value. If you base your content marketing strategy on providing real value to the customer, you will already be differentiating yourself from the competition.
2. Blogs still work, post regularly
Blogs are still one the most valuable business communication channels. Experts recommend brands should publish between 1 and 4 original posts per month and reuse the content on other channels.
3. Don't forget about video or social media
Video content is becoming more and more successful. Thus, investing in multimedia and publishing content in multiple formats is essential to keep up with an increasingly digital, multi-platform and multimedia world.
On the other hand, do not forget to share content on social media and generate specific content for each of the platforms to connect with different audiences.
4. Use cases are your ally
As we have already seen, use cases are amongst the most influential contents with 47% of consumers saying they are their favorite type of content, followed by webinars (39%), third-party reports (35%), reviews from other users (32%), videos (32%), white papers (31%), blogs (24%) and infographics (19%).
Share success stories that help other customers.
5. Be consistent
An effective content marketing strategy asks for perseverance, patience and dedication.
If you want to go for this type of marketing you must know that, most likely, you will not increase your sales or get leads overnight. However, if you consolidate a long-term strategy and are consistent, you will see very positive results after the first year.
Want to create an effective content marketing strategy? Focus on your customers' interests and needs. Do not create content thinking about your company's interests oCase studies (47%) and webinars (39%) are the two most influential content formats.r the products or services it sells. Publish quality content that provides value on a regular basis. Share content on multiple channels and create multimedia content. And, most importantly, don't lose hope.