Content marketing is nothing new, just the name is

“Content marketing” is the new buzzword that I can’t seem to escape hearing, in relation to both online and offline marketing.

The reality is that content marketing, by numerous other names, is the primary marketing method that most successful marketing consultants, and most intelligent businesses, have been using for well over 100 years. I typically refer to it as “education marketing”, but it’s the second core idea behind direct response marketing, right after measurement.

The way that it’s being presented right now makes it sound like a fancy new idea, but it’s simply not. Anybody that has ever used long copy, told a story in their marketing, or offered a special report or free information kit is basically using content marketing. Content marketing always has been, and always will be, the driving force behind Search Engine Optimization, and is also the primary driver behind social media marketing.

The basic premise is that people don’t really want to purchase any particular product or service. In reality, what they want is a solution to a problem. When it comes to transforming that concept into a marketing proposition, we inevitably turn to creating information that answers the questions people are asking. For example:

Problem: “I am thirsty.”
Presentation: “Coke quenches thirst.”
Solution: “Buy Coke.”

This basic marketing formula has been around since the dawn of human trade, and is never going away. In this day and age, because of technology, people are more empowered than ever before to research solutions, investigate companies, and perform due diligence and self-education. Ignoring this increase in personal empowerment is absurdly dangerous for your business.

Content refers to anything that informs or entertains. It can be written, audio, video, graphical, or any other form that can transmit information or create a stimulus. Good content gets read when it shows up in the mailbox, poor content gets thrown away. Good content gets picked up by the search engines, increasing the likelihood of your site showing up when people search. Good content also gets shared in many ways: links, status updates, Tweets, pins, pods, and more. CDs, DVDs, books, articles, and other physical content gets passed around by colleagues and friends. Even just good ideas can spread like wildfire through simple word of mouth.

As an aside, I’d like to remind you that social media should not be viewed as anything new and fancy. Social media existed in 1993, just in different forms. Social media web sites are still nothing but web sites, and “shares”, “likes”, and “retweets” are really nothing more than just link sharing. The major difference is that instead of the web site company creating all the content and determining what is worthwhile to link to, the users do it instead. Keep this simple fact in mind, and social media isn’t so daunting — it’s all still just HTML and links.

People want information. Make that GOOD information. Always have, always will. Good content will bring people to your web site, to your client newsletter, to your email list, to your office. Good content builds authority, creates expert status, and gets people to pay you money.

The real focus of all marketing is to ultimately make money.

Money comes from clients.

Clients come from leads.

Leads come from people seeking information about solving a problem.

Provide valuable information, and leads will come.

Nurture those leads with additional valuable communications that get those leads to know you, like you, and trust you and they will become clients.

That right there is the step-by-step breakdown of every marketing plan, every lead generation tactic, every strategic growth plan. Achieving each of those steps involves content in one form or another. There is no escaping the value of content in building, growing, and maintaining your business.

What kind of content are you putting out into the universe? Does your content encourage taking action? Does your content position you as an authority? Does your content make the people you want to know, like and trust you actually do that?