As 2019 nears, we decided to devote a podcast specifically to content marketing. When you mention content marketing to most brands, they often agree in a general sense – “oh yes, content marketing, sure” – but can have trouble digging down to the specifics. What is content marketing? What should a content strategy look like?

Remember, content marketing is set to remain a vital part of your overall marketing strategy! Estimates should that the content marketing industry alone will be worth more than $400 billion by 2021, and there’s a good reason for that – it’s worth it! So we’re taking the extra broad view and covering important content basics that all businesses should know.

What is Content Marketing, Anyway?

On a basic level, content marketing is “anything that communicates a message to the audience,” a definition courtesy of Ian Lurie, CEO of Portent, Inc. And yes, that absolutely includes some traditional forms of advertising. A TV commercial? That’s content. A billboard? That’s content. When people talk about content marketing, they are talking about everything old and new that communicates a message in any form.

However, with such a wide definition, content marketing is also more versatile than traditional marketing. For example, it’s very easy to use content marketing to tell a story. Storytelling positions a brand in a narrative context that’s filled with powerful emotions and backed by interesting testimonials, inspiring startups, and case studies that can all act as marketing for a company, positioning the brand in people’s minds.

Content marketing can also be educational, which means it doesn’t have to specifically be about the brand or value offering. It can simply provide value by offering information, tips, and news. People then mentally link this helpful content with the company that provided it, and the brand improves.

What is a Content Strategy, and Why is It Important?

A content strategy is much more than just creating content and pushing it out into the world. It’s about approaching content in such a way that you know what you’re doing. Look at common definitions of content strategy, and you’ll see words like planning, data, governance, implementation, maintenance, indexable, regular, and quantifiable.

In other words, simply scheduling content on a calendar is not a content strategy, and does not yield good decision making. B2B companies fall short here – only around 37% have a true content strategy to guide their marketing. A great strategy needs to ask,

What are our specific content goals? Don’t just say “sell more” or “get more subscribers.” Set a number, and set a date for reaching that number. Now we’re talking about a strategy!

What resources do we have for meeting those goals? A strategy includes budgets and budget growth, there’s no avoiding it.

What channels will we use to deliver content? Decide this early on! What websites will you use? Will you have physical ads, radio ads, TV ads? What type of internet ads will you use? Be specific, and think about the best ways to reach your audience.

What metrics will we use to judge success? Each channel has important indicators that show how people are responding. Understand them, and pick key metrics to follow.

What Do You Absolutely Need When Creating a Marketing Strategy?

To help out, let’s narrow it down to three things.

  • Know Who You are Helping. What is your audience? Where do they live, what do they expect, what do they like? When do they consume content? Customer personas can be helpful here, but remember B2C and B2B marketing can see a lot of differences in this area.
  • Know How to Help People in Ways No One Else Can. The traditional marketing rule applies even more directly to content marketing: The content itself should be unique, powerful, and set you apart from competitors. Offer better information, more aesthetic images, clearer explanations, and more attractive invitations! Explain just how you are superior, but also prove it through your content quality.
  • Know When You Have Been Successful. This ties into that key metric issues that we discussed above. You need to follow the right metrics to compare your content to your goals. End results are important here, but it’s important that metrics show the big picture, and where content marketing is delivering results.

So, what are your plans for content in 2019? Let us know on social media @21handshake! If you enjoyed this podcast, please take a moment to rate it 5 stars, and check out our other recent podcasts as we discuss trends for 2019, how content builds trust, and much more!