The Content Marketing Institute provides this definition for Content Marketing:
“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.”
Notice I emphasized that last bit? “Profitable customer action.” They go on to write:
“Basically, content marketing is the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling. It is non-interruption marketing. Instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent. The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty.”
Again. Notice the italicized copy.
“Profitable customer action, reward us with business,” sounds a bit like sales to me, no? Content marketing is selling, no matter how you slice the pie.
Direct selling? No. But selling none the less.
Pushing our brand out to the target audience with a wonderfully creative ad campaign for a product/service. What I like to refer to as, “the shout.”
Pulling the customer (not just an audience) in with wonderfully creative content that is extremely relevant—aligning with their interests, their role, and their location in the customer. “The conversation.”
Take Anthropologie’s blog, which this year offered me great advice on how to prep a guest-room and revise my bar cart for upcoming holiday parties.
And at no point during these reads did I ever think, “Wow. I love that throw pillow. That mirror in that guest room is awesome. Wait, is my lighting cozy? I don’t have cozy enough lighting, do I need a new lamp?” Or, “Shaking tins? A crystal mixing glass for a centerpiece? I don’t have those yet.”
Leading to… “I need to order those.”
Are you out of your mind? Of course I did!
Creative, relevant, quality content leading to dare I say, sales from Anthropologie.
There is no denying that the customer journey has evolved due to the advent of content marketing and really, all social media. But the end of that journey remains—a conversion that leads to profitable action for our brand—whether we’ve shouted or conversed to get them there.
One of my favorite content marketing quotes comes from Jenny Wall, CMO at Hulu.
“The balance between math and magic—head and heart—is a big consideration in putting the right shows in front of the right people.”
Because it isn’t about creating content based solely on data. Buyer personas, technographics. And it certainly isn’t about creating content for the sake of content. Throwing something at the wall, and hoping it will stick.
It’s about creating content influenced by both math and magic, head and heart. Telling a story that is smart and savvy enough to lead a conversation resulting in a conversion—sale—without shouting it.
And that, my friends, is why content marketing is in fact, selling. Now, for a slice of that pie…on your new plate from Anthropologie.