Content Marketing Defined

12 Core Content Marketing Attributes

contentduko Content marketing creates and shares useful narrative information to engage prospects, current customers and the public.

While grounded in the principles of Mad Men like David Ogilvy in its editorial appearance and Leo Burnett in the integration of important brand attributes, content marketing doesn’t interrupt or promote. It lures potential customers in and persuades them. Here are twelve core attributes of content marketing.

  1. Delivers high quality, relevant and valuable information. Content Marketing is the strategic creation and sharing of ideas, information, and resources according to Dr. William J. Ward (aka DR4WARD). It engages consumers with information they really want, in a way that serves your brand’s purposes and ideals. Story Worldwide’s Keith Blanchard views content marketing as the evolution of advertising into something more effective and efficient.
  2. Builds brand awareness through its brand attributes. Content marketing embodies an organization’s core brand elements. In Barry Graubart’s view (who blogs at Content Matters), content marketing is an approach by which companies author and/or share contextually relevant content to create or reinforce their brand messaging.
  3. Educates and entertains prospects, customers and the public. Sharing content, according to Jim Siegel, provides relevant value to diverse constituents to help generate dialogue and grow our base.
  4. Positions a brand, product, company or spokesperson as industry thought leader and/or expert. Through its long narrative format, content marketing can be used for your offering or members of your executive team.
  5. Breaks through to attract customer attention. In today’s message-rich world, content marketing provides a story and hook to keep prospects, customers and the public engaged. The human stories at its core make it memorable. Additionally, content marketing can be optimized to increase the probability of being found.
  6. Has a variety of formats. Uses a variety of media formats such as text, video, photographs, audio, presentations, ebooks and infographics to tell your brand or company’s story.  Jason Falls of Social Media Explorer also includes social media exchanges such as wall posts and tweets as content. Content marketing also takes the form of custom magazines, print or online newsletters, digital content, websites or microsites, white papers, webcasts/webinars, in-person roadshows, roundtables and events. It’s important to ensure your content can be read on a variety of different devices.
  7. Is distributed via owned, third party and social media platforms, both online and offline. In David Meerman Scotts words, you can own attention by creating something interesting and valuable and then publishing it online for free on a social media platform.
  8. Engages prospects, customers and the public. Content marketing for Rebecca Lieb is the marketing of attraction. It’s being there when consumers need you and seek you out. Today’s social media landscape and the easy access to distributed content and other messages encourages these connections.
  9. Tells stories to provide personal, emotional connections with products and brands. C.C. Chapman emphasizes content marketing’s human and conversational side.
  10. Persuades consumers and decision makers. Content Marketing is an intentional approach to attracting, engaging and inspiring customers to a logical conclusion to buy and share through content that empathizes with the varied interests and behaviors during the buying cycle, in the words of Online Marketing Blog’s Lee Odden.  By delivering useful and relevant information, answering questions, solving problems and improving lives in some fashion, prospects can make an informed decision to buy. According to Lisa Gerber of Spin Sucksthe idea is they will buy from you, because you have earned their trust.
  11. Isn’t promotional in nature. Content marketing is NOT price tags on tangible items in the words of Likeable Media’s Dan Bergeron. He recommends focusing less on the cost and product details and more on the customer experience. It’s not a veiled sales pitch.
  12. Provides measurable results. By using appropriate calls-to-action and promotional codes, content marketing is trackable. The ultimate goal of content marketing, according to Joe Pulizzi of Content Marketing Institute, is to drive profitable action.

As a narrative form of marketing focused on customer needs, content marketing gently persuades prospects and helps buyers and the public while telling a story. In the process, content marketing builds audiences by delivering relevant, educational content to turn fans, followers, readers and viewers into customers.  Although content marketing isn’t new, its power has been exponentially improved with today’s social media platforms and other devices.

Is there anything else that you’d add to this list of core content marketing attributes? If so, what would you include and why?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen


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Photo credit: yourdoku via Flickr

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  • http://www.williamscopywriting.ca Helen Williams

    You not only defined the concept but identified the current leaders in the field and how they view content marketing – in 12 ways! Joy to read content researched thoroughly on what so many do, or say they do, daily. Should be a required read for all businesses – small and big – to grasp what the words on paper and online need to be doing. Thank you. Great reminder.

  • http://www.tommangan.net/verbnerd/ Tom Mangan

    Took me awhile to glom onto the fact that everything from a tweet to a Facebook post to a blog link is content. As is the physical layout of your website and all of its navigational features.

    While I’m ad old text guy, I suspect the future belongs to those who master video.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steyn-Viljoen/1570993142 Steyn Viljoen

      Yes! I absolutely agree. The future of online marketing is video. I believe [my opinion] that it will even reinvent the traditional online marketing model as we know it. 

      People need to be met on their terms. If I’m one of those people I want to be met with content that is selfless. That’s the difficult part. But the powerful part marketers needs to get. As a marketer, I need to get this. 

      Not sure what this looks like yet…