There are so many definitions for 'content marketing' out there. The Content Marketing Institute defines it as:
A marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience - with the objective of driving profitable customer action.
That sounds lovely and professional and yes, it defines the process of content marketing well. It is about creating valuable, relevant and consistent content for your customers with the objective of gaining greater conversion, revenue and other positive results.
In its very simplest terms, however, I like to think of content marketing as storytelling.
Before we delve in, let's talk about the term content marketing a little more. With content marketing, your content comes first and channels come second.
What is content?
Content encompasses anything you create to tell your brand story. It's the story itself. Think engaging blog posts, compelling product copy, beautiful imagery, videos, infographics and so much more.
What are channels?
Channels are where and how you share that content. So, a blog is a channel. Social media, videos, emails and printed catalogues are all channels. With content marketing, content comes first, channels come second. The importance is on creating engaging and valuable content for your audience. Then, once you have that content, you can decide where and how you're going to share it with the world. Ultimately, it's about the customer experience, not just a product or service at the end of the line.
Why is content marketing so great?
The reason why content marketing has become so popular is that it offers brands and businesses a way to connect with consumers that is different to traditional advertising methods, and that has a proven track record of resulting in greater engagement, which builds greater brand equity and which translates to greater conversion.
Great content marketing:
- connects with your customers - connect is the important word here
- takes them on a brand experience
- builds brand authority - which means consumers look to your brand for relevant information on specific topics and which encourages positive word of mouth marketing for your brand
- improves SEO (search engine optimisation) - Google rewards quality content with higher rankings which means your site will appear higher in search results
- increases the time spent on your site through greater engagement which, in turn, increases conversion and revenue.
Which leads us to storytelling.
At the core of all storytelling is the desire to connect. If content marketing is all about connection, then it's also all about storytelling.
We all have a story. We all crave connection. When someone tells us their story and their reason for being, we naturally engage with it because we have one too. If you find a brand that has a story that you find compelling and a message that is inspiring, it's likely you'll support that brand and share your love for it with others.
What's your story?
In your creative business, what's your reason for being? What is it about what you do that you absolutely love? What gets you up and out of bed each day? What inspires you? Start here.
Think about those questions. What are your answers? Do you share them with your community often? Do your customers know your story? How are you going to communicate your passion and inspiration with them?
For me, I love learning. I love that moment when I'm reading a book, hearing someone speak or watching a film and I lose myself. I'm totally involved in the experience and my emotions take over. I feel inspired and afraid and vulnerable all at once. I crave the moment that someone's words or creations alter my way of looking at something and I want to create things that do that too.
In order to connect with people you have to open yourself up to being vulnerable and sometimes that means taking a risk, but if you tell your story with conviction, courage and passion, you'll discover a world of people who want to know more. In that story (in you) is all the compelling content you could ever want or need.
Get organised, throw it in a content calendar and go!
If you're not already, use a content calendar. Organise all those amazing, wonderful, inspiring ideas that are bubbling away now and get them down on paper. Create something simple in a word or excel doc and plan ahead.
Once you've got it down you can start thinking about where you want to share it. Start a blog. Create a YouTube channel. Sign up to Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter. You choose. Once you've got your story, once you've got the content, you can decide on your channels.
Just remember that in storytelling there needs to be a listener or reader too. So, have a conversation with your audience. Share your story and ask for theirs too. Own it, embrace it, and listen to what others have to say. It's there that you'll find connection and plenty of ideas for content too.
Domini Marshall is a freelance writer living in Melbourne. A love for great stories and connection inspires her work for brands and businesses in copywriting, content creation and social media. A creative at heart, she also writes short fiction and screenplays and you can find her sharing inspiration and more on Instagram and Pinterest.