We get that question a lot around here, that and it’s twin question “What is inbound marketing and how is it different from content marketing?”
In its simplest form, content marketing is providing your prospective customers with the information they need, in the way they want to consume it, when they need it.
The Information They Need
If I am researching business solutions for project management, I don’t want to sit through sales pitches from five different companies. I want to know what my options are for project management.
If I want to know which nonprofits work in children’s literacy, I don’t want to get a Charitywatch rating of all the top 100 charities in the United States. i want to know who works in the area of literacy. And being a sophisticated searcher, I will find it.
If I am wondering if my loved one has an addiction problem, I don’t want a landing page saying “Get Help Now!” I want a checklist of signs to look for when wondering about addiction.
I am on a Buyer’s Journey, and at this stage of the journey, I want pure information. I want to compare programs for my project management issue. I’m not even sure I have an addiction issue. I need entry-level information.
In the Way they Want to Consume It
Content marketing takes into account that we all prefer to consume our information differently. For instance, I don’t particularly want to consume my information in an infographic. I know others love them, but for me they are too non-linear and they require my brain to synthesize too much information on the fly. I prefer to read a straightforward description of the issue I am researching.
My coworkers will often prefer to watch a video when they are researching processes or products. That is why YouTube is the second largest search engine, after Google. When they need to understand a concept, they turn to YouTube first.
Content marketing provides your information to your prospective customers using the language and format they need to bond with your message. This is where knowing your buyer personas is crucial!
When They Need It
On the other hand, if it’s time to get help NOW for my addicted child, I don’t want to see a white paper. I want to know where to take my child. I have moved along in my Buyer’s Journey. I have done my comparisons of one program to another, and I want help. I need a big, red Panic button visible to guide me.
Your content needs to be there, when I need it.
That’s content marketing: strewing the breadcrumbs of information around the internet so that I can follow the trail back to the information and services I need.
Recently Content Marketing Institute released a great video describing exactly how content marketing works. (See that? You video-loving folks will be happy! Skip the article and watch the video!)