Marketing is impossible without great content. No matter how much you know about content marketing, you might wish you understood specific strategies, tactics, or skills more deeply.
Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “… 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.”
Throughout most of my life, my mother worked at Content Marketing Institute. I never understood what she did or what she was saying – all I knew was that she was incredible at it. People would often ask me, “What does your mom do?” and I would simply reply, “I have no idea. She tries to explain but it’s just too much. All I know is that she’s well known in the marketing industry.”
In September of 2019, I began my freshman year of college with an internship at Content Marketing World in Cleveland, Ohio. I was fortunate enough to work alongside marketers from around the world who knew virtually everything about content marketing and yet, were always eager to learn more. I listened to keynote speakers who were constantly finding and implementing the best content marketing strategies. As I reflect almost three years later, I can’t believe how lucky I am to have and to learn from so many connections just from those few days.
A big takeaway from the event was that content marketing isn’t competitive. People were sharing strategies that could help every business flourish and grow. The best part is… the event happens every year, generating thousands of guests who are constantly collaborating content marketing ideas and strategies.
I have met so many intelligent, well-rounded people throughout CMI. They influenced me so much that I am following in the footsteps of my mother. I am going into my final year of college, majoring in Journalism, and working with social media.
In response to all that I have learned, I asked my mother, Cathy McPhillips, a few questions about content marketing. To begin, I asked, “What is the importance of content marketing? How have you noticed it change or grow throughout your career?”
“In a previous role, I thought I was doing content marketing. I was writing blog posts all about our products and services! I learned quickly that just because it’s a blog post doesn’t mean it’s content marketing. Content marketing is creating something relevant and useful to your customers. It’s building authority and trust so when your customers and prospects are ready to buy, they’ll come to you first. One great example of this is the Cleveland Clinic. A huge portion of their Health Essentials website is dedicated to things you can do and actions you can take so you DON’T need to come to the Cleveland Clinic. A shortsighted mentality would think, ‘We’re losing revenue because now they won’t come in, when in actuality, their numbers over time are increasing because customers have become loyal to the Cleveland Clinic.
When I first started my career in advertising, it was about being on TV, investing large amounts of ad dollars to broad-reaching audiences. Now, we focus on targeting, personalizing, and creating epic customer and user experiences through our content. One, our dollars stretch further, and two, our customers are seeing content they actually care about.”
Customer and user experiences are key to content marketing. Take it from Wally Koval, also known as @accidentallywesanderson on Instagram. Wally “accidentally” gained a huge audience after posting images on Instagram that reminded him of Wes Anderson films. He built his audience through what they wanted to see, consistently. The value is the images, history, and the storytelling. Followers can send in images that they want featured on the account.
The @accidentallywesanderson now holds 1.6 million followers, posting daily. Following the sudden fame, Wally Koval now has a website in which he gains a profit from merchandise, book sales, speaking events, etc. His wild journey all comes from content marketing strategies.
What did Wally prioritize to create such a large platform? Having had work experience at Content Marketing Institute, he applied what he had learned and turned it into something bigger.
Content marketing has these three characteristics:
- Valuable – Content marketing is most likely to succeed when it serves an unmet need (e.g., delivering critical information buyers are likely searching for, providing a tool or technique to make their lives easier, or guiding them through the steps of a complicated process).
- Relevant – Your content should appeal to audience interests and information needs – not just perspectives and priorities your business wants to further.
- Consistent – Viral success with a single content piece feels great in the short term. But you will only get visitors back if you consistently offer something valuable. That means you produce and deliver valuable, relevant content on a reliable schedule.
In following these steps, the aim is for your audience to grow to trust and rely on you, recognize your company’s value, and reward you with their loyalty and engagement.
Returning back to my mother, I then asked, “How does content marketing relate to other forms of marketing? What makes it stand out?”
“Over the years, content marketing has really become ‘marketing.’ Customers want to learn more about brands, and make connections with brands, especially in B2B or with larger B2C purchases. Just like in my current role, AI marketing will eventually become marketing because every technology out there will have to become smarter to stay relevant or risk becoming obsolete. Content marketing stands out because it doesn’t revolve around you, your product, or your service. It revolves around filling a customer need, perhaps one they didn’t even know they had. There are so many disciplines within content marketing, but all of it revolves around being more strategic to be a better steward to your customers.”
At Babcox Media, we strive in driving success through innovation. We are constantly aiming to improve efficiency, effectiveness, and reliability. Content marketing is a huge aspect of our brand. Babcox builds communities to give people the power to connect with content and grow businesses. We’d love to help you!