What is content marketing?


Sam Lauron
What is content marketing?

You’ve likely heard the term used many times in the communications and marketing world, but what exactly is content marketing? 

Generally speaking, content marketing is an umbrella term for a number of marketing methods and tools. In fact, you’re probably already using content to market your business and may not even realize it! 

Below, we’re explaining exactly what content marketing is and breaking down how you can use it to improve your brand marketing.

What is content marketing?

Content marketing is when brands create and distribute content that contains valuable or useful  information their target audience wants or needs. The key, however, is that the content doesn’t explicitly promote their product or service. While producing content is a means to drive more traffic and brand awareness to a business, the content itself shouldn’t revolve around whatever the company is selling. Instead of including the company’s typical elevator pitch or selling points, the content should be geared toward what a potential customer would be interested in on a broader scale. For example, if your company is a co-working space, a smart content marketing initiative would be to create a blog that offers advice and insight into topics like remote working, entrepreneurship, work-life balance, or even productivity. 

While blog posts and social media content are the most common form of content marketing, there are other marketing assets you may have created that also fall under the umbrella of content marketing. Have you ever created a white paper for your company? Maybe an ebook or infographic? Or maybe even an entertaining or informational video? These are all considered forms of content marketing. 

Why is content marketing important?

There are several reasons why content marketing should play an essential role in a company’s communication strategy from building customer loyalty to driving sales. 

Brand building

Because content marketing prioritizes what the audience wants, it’s a crucial element to building a community–more importantly, one that’s engaged–around your brand. One brand that capitalized on what its audience wants is beauty company, Glossier. Glossier admittedly built their cult-like following from the ground up using Instagram, specifically through user-generated content. Glossier is known for posting images of customers using their skin and makeup products. This method works well because they’re not only connecting with people whose images they repost, making them feel like part of a community, but they’re also marketing their brand without explicitly promoting any products. 

Thought leadership 

Producing high-quality content that’s relevant to your audience and industry will also position your brand as one that people turn to when searching for information related to that space. Take outdoor brand, REI, for example. REI understands who their audience is, what they’re interested in, and how the brand could play a role. One scroll through REI’s YouTube channel and it’s immediately evident that they’re experts in the outdoor space. The videos cover things from “5 Snowboard Tricks for Beginners” to “How to Make the Perfect Hiking Snack.” By producing outdoor-related how-to videos, they’re positioning themselves not only as thought leaders, but also as the go-to retailer for people who eventually want to look for snowboarding or hiking gear, for instance.  

Drive sales

A great example of how content marketing initiatives can drive sales is Costco’s magazine, Costco Connection. The free monthly magazine is filled with lifestyle content like recipes, health tips, and travel stories. While it also features ads for Costco’s own line of products or current offers, the main focus is on the original content. The magazine is not only a tool to build community and brand loyalty, but it also helps drive sales for the store. More than half of subscribers (the magazine is mailed to Costco’s executive members) purchase a product after seeing it mentioned in the Costco Connection. Costco’s magazine is a prime example of how producing consistent, relevant, and engaging content can pay off in the long run. 

About Sam Lauron: Sam is a freelance lifestyle writer and a copywriter at Swyft, which has been listed as one of the best PR firms in Austin and a top digital marketing agency in Denver since its founding in 2011. Swyft has satellite offices where it offers PR in San Francisco and Houston.

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