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What is Content Marketing?

If you search for “content marketing” on Google, you’ll find an abundance of articles advocating its benefits and necessity, with some even featured on sites as large as Forbes and The Huffington Post. But what is content marketing? Despite the countless articles on the subject, it’s difficult to answer this question. The majority of articles tend to skim over the definition of the term and instead talk about why it’s useful. With the effectiveness of content marketing being unanimously endorsed, it’s inevitable that more and more people will want to take advantage of it. But without a detailed explanation available, how can a beginner understand this concept? In order to solve this problem, I’ve had a deeper look into content marketing to find out what it really is.

Content and Marketing

The “marketing” part of content marketing is relatively straightforward, meaning to promote the value of a product or service to customers so that they are encouraged to buy it. The word “content”, however, is very loosely defined, and it can refer to a wide range of communicative techniques. For example, text is a type of content, but a status update on a website will have a different audience to a press release or case study. Some text may be written by a celebrity in order to target their fans, whilst other text could be interactive, such as a quiz. On top of this, the medium through which the text is supplied will reach different audiences, e.g. consider the likely audience of a newspaper article versus its online equivalent. But these are only a few of the ways in which text can be presented – and this is to say nothing of the writing styles and techniques they contain, nor the other types of content, such as audio and video. Therefore, we can say that, in general, content is information that an end-user experiences, and that content marketing is using these informative experiences to advertise a product or service.

Knowing Your Audience

The most important aspect of content marketing that needs to be understood is that only specific types of content will reach and engage with specific audiences. For example, advertising a new video game through an online video would reach an audience of young people effectively, as they commonly play games and browse the internet. However, would advertising the opening of a new corner shop through this same method be effective? Unlike a video game, which is sold worldwide and is targeting a certain age group, a corner shop is only targeting a small, geographic location. Not everyone living in that location will watch internet videos, so the content would not reach them. However, everyone in that location will own a home, so delivering a leaflet to local homes would reach the audience much more effectively. But let’s say that the video did reach everyone; is it necessary to see a video of the store? A video game will be judged on its visuals, but potential customers of a corner shop would be more interested in knowing what it’s selling, where it is or what its contact details are. Writing this information down for the customer would be more effective than making them rewind a video to get the details.

Summary

It’s clear that certain types of content will reach certain audiences more effectively and appropriately than others. If a company wants to use content marketing successfully, it is necessary to have a good understanding of your target audience before creating any content, as the type of audience will affect the type of content chosen and its medium of delivery. The content itself can then have many goals, such as to advertise, solve a problem or elicit a response. The type that is chosen will depend on the customer’s needs and the company’s goals. To put it simply, content marketing is using a specific type of communication to successfully reach and engage with a target audience.

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