I think some of you are perhaps making this content marketing thing a bit and unduly complicated. Many of the prospects I talk to about Content Carnivores have a hard time with this. Yesterday I presented to a smart guy who proudly claimed his Harvard Business School lineage and his success turning around several companies in the technology, entertainment and publishing space. He only sort of got this content marketing thing. If you dont’ get it, you’re in good company.
First of all, what is content?
What does writing involve?
OK so far?
What else does writing need?
And finally, what does all writing desperately want to find?
All of these involve the noble pursuit of capturing ideas, making insights, evaluating what’s been said before and making it the writer’s own. Content wants to make a subject or point of view clear.
Now the hard part. What is marketing?
For most of the world it is fluff. Bull shit, even. A cost item in a budget–as opposed to an investment, revenue producer or a capital expenditure. It is seen as a necessary evil. It’s something that fast-talking jerks with white teeth and cooler clothes talk about in a jargon that no one outside their little buzz-centric world remotely ‘gets’. Right? It’s popular to hate marketing.
And yet, ironically, all that marketing has ever wanted was to be liked.
Marketing likes to think that it is informing us about a product. It aims to take a position. It is one-sided in favor of what it is selling. But it will often confuse or obscure the truth or dazzle us to conveniently forget what it is. That pisses us off.
In a nutshell, marketing will do whatever it takes–lie, cheat, steal, promise, beg and make offers–to get one thing. Marketing wants to be liked. We like to hate it for the ways it goes about getting more likes.
So if Writing is the Noble, and Marketing is the Fool, then how did Content Marketing get to be King?
A funny thing happened when a bunch of academic scientists and then writers started sharing information. The internet became bigger and faster spawned than anything in the history of information, publishing or even talking. And it was all based on writing. Then another odd thing happened. People started reading this–and sharing it with their friends. They wanted to do this themselves, and so the internet gave them the products and tools to write, videotape, podcast, publish, share and otherwise act like writers.
Marketers didn’t do this. They put up banner ads and spammed inboxes. They sucked at the internet. For the most part, they still do. And in the spirit of finding interesting stuff and sharing it, check out this link about what people trust online. Any guesses on who comes in last place? Because the internet isn’t like TV, or a magazine, or anything else. It’s the internet. Go ahead and compare and contrast all you like, but it is unlike anything else in its ability to reach out to the masses and have complete strangers and unknown pieces of information become known. Marketers try and tap into this by buying their way into social channels. Remember, they want desperately to be liked. But for the most part they put up their messages around the things that people already like. And hope it gets them a little residual like.
And so, What is Content Marketing?
Again, Content is Writing. And Marketing is being Liked.
That makes Content Marketing writing that is liked.
How do we do that?
By writing interesting, quality and original pieces.
How do we do that?
By using the internet to research the topic and know what we are talking about.
From there, the internet also takes care of publishing the words and helping find an audience.
Quality writing gets read more.
And getting read more equals being liked more.
Which is exactly what marketers so desperately need. And so, my Harvard Business School alum and future client, this is content marketing, lower case as it really isn’t a big deal, is it?
Marketers who sponsor great, honest, opinionated and original writing–and that does not mean publishing your ‘about’ page’– discover that something remarkable happens.
Go ahead, ‘like’ this if you like it. Share it if you are so inclined. Or comment on it if you find it motivates you on either side of the fence.