I’ve been practicing content marketing for nearly nine years now — and I’m not the only one. There are thousands of us content marketers out there. Not to mention, the industry itself is worth over $400 billion!
But, time and time again, I still hear the question asked: “So what exactly IS content marketing?”
This video was created to answer that question. My goal is that this big, burning question is thoroughly answered in a way that inspires you to get started on your content marketing journey! 💡
what is content marketing

What is Content Marketing? (Video)

What is content marketing? If you're still confused about what it is and how it could be your business's winning formula 🧪, watch @JuliaEMcCoy's latest video on Youtube featuring @JoePulizzi and @cmicontent. ✨ Click To Tweet
To get a solid, accurate definition of content marketing, let’s turn to industry leaders that have been an influential part of this industry today.
So, let’s start there. Then, we’ll head into a down-to-earth discussion of what this type of marketing really is!
Unless you’re living under a content marketing rock, you’ve probably heard of Content Marketing Institute. The founder of CMI, Joe Pulizzi, is known as the “Godfather of Content Marketing.”

joe pulizzi godfather

The literal ‘godfather’ of content marketing himself. Credits to my amazing video producer, Renata Franco.

Back in 2011, Joe started Content Marketing World, a world-leading content marketing event today with over 4,000 content marketers in attendance. When Joe had the idea to start the event, he reserved a room that fit 125 people in the Cleveland Renaissance Hotel. Over 600 people showed up. It grew and grew every year from there.
Content Marketing Institute says that content marketing is:

A strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. Instead of pitching your products or services, you are providing truly relevant and useful content to your prospects and customers to help them solve their issues.

content marketing definition cmi
Let’s look at a few other sources. Wikipedia used over 34 sources for their definition of content marketing:

Content marketing is a form of marketing focused on creating, publishing, and distributing content for a targeted audience online. It is often used by businesses in order to:

  • Attract attention and generate leads
  • Expand their customer base
  • Generate or increase online sales
  • Increase brand awareness or credibility
  • Engage an online community of users

content marketing definition wikipedia
Marketo says:

Content marketing is the process of creating valuable, relevant content to attract, acquire, and engage your audience. Buyers and customers today are inundated by more marketing messages than ever before — more than 2,900 per day, by current estimations. This creates an environment of attention scarcity, challenging marketers with the task of producing engaging content that won’t get lost in the static. A well-crafted content marketing strategy places your business in the position of a thought leader.

marketo content marketing definition
When content marketing works BEST, it usually has two core elements:

  • When the main purpose of content marketing is to grow and build an engaged, happy audience
  • When the creator/creators (brand, publication, entrepreneur, marketer) are ready for a long-term commitment

Some say the first example of content marketing goes way back to Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard Almanack, first published in 1732, which Franklin published in order to get people hooked on his printing service.
In the 19th century, John Deere started a magazine called the Furrow with the goal of providing accurate, unbiased information for farmers to improve their operation, according to a Content Marketing Institute documentary.
If you study the best examples of brands grown through content today, even the Content Marketing Institute, this was their goal — build an audience before selling anything. Typically, content was created for 12 to 18, 24 months before an offer was ever made to that audience.
This is true for my agency, Express Writers. 99% of our leads and revenue come from our blogging. We’ve never once not published a blog per week in eight years of blogging.
So, if this is ever backwards — the offer and sale come ahead of the audience — content marketing simply put, doesn’t work.
To win at content marketing, the type of content you publish should be the BEST in your industry. Think in terms of mastering what you do.
This means being the best in…

  • Best in author voice (expert writer, researcher, creator – outsource this to make life easy)
  • Best in topics and concepts (thought leader – avoid outsourcing this part)
  • Best in optimization and visibility (to be found on Google, research the right keywords and topics before creating)

Focusing on mastering on one channel is better than jumping to all the shiny objects. Study the benchmarks you’re up against, and create better content! More comprehensive, more long-form, more unique.
Focusing on mastering on one channel is better than jumping to all the shiny objects. Study the benchmarks you’re up against, and create better content to win. 💯 Click To Tweet
Any company, big or small, from tech to manufacturing, can produce content marketing.

How Does Content Marketing Differ from Traditional Advertising?

Content marketing’s goal is to build an audience, and then, turn that audience into buyers. (Without that, there is not a ton of profit and ROI.)
Why it’s different than ads: content marketing that works puts the buyer in the driver’s seat. It completely obliterates the annoying, pushy “look-at-me, look-at-me” attitude of traditional advertising. Instead, content is used to build a relationship.
The costs of content-marketing can be low, as compared to ads. You can publish on your own site, your own blog — unlike traditional advertising, where companies pay a third party, like Facebook, to include an ad.
Brands like Kraft have said that content marketing’s ROI was 4x that of traditional ROI.
Some successfully use content marketing in tandem with paid ads. So, that can be done to great success.

What Does a Content Marketing Plan Include?

Usually, these are the six content types included in a content marketing plan:

  1. Web pages (onsite: Home, About, etc.)
  2. Blogs (onsite: consistent fresh content)
  3. Social media (consistent fresh content on social profiles)
  4. Email copy (build your list, send out new content)
  5. News/ad/sales copy (sales pages, ad campaigns, PRs)
  6. Creative (video scripts, etc. as needed for different campaigns)

The best content to publish consistently is blog content (weekly), emails (weekly), and your social media content (daily).

Don’t Go Crazy in Doing All of That Content — Manage and Delegate It

This can get overwhelming, fast. You have to have a method to the madness.
The key is managing. Instead of “doing” all the content, think in terms of “managing” all the content. Delegate to the right partners, the right expert writers and creators.
It’s easy to worry, “Do I have to do all the things?” In short, the answer is yes, you DO have to do a lot, but if you think about managing rather than doing you won’t be burnt out all the time and risk content marketing failure. Also, think of your complete content marketing as an ecosystem.
That’s about it for today’s video! If you have any questions on content marketing that I didn’t address in today’s video, tell me in the comments.
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