I recently came across an article on Copyblogger tackling the question „What’s the Difference Between a Professional Writer and a Content Marketer?“ My first reaction was: Hell, I can be a content marketer and not a writer at all – what about all the video-, graphics or illustrations? That is content, too. Many people actually do content marketing without ever writing much. But, ok – being a writer certainly does not hurt your content marketing.
What really kind of shocked me was the mixing up of “content creation” and “content marketing” in the above-mentioned article. While it might be helpful to know how to create good content for content marketing, this certainly does not make you a content marketer.
In the above-mentioned article, content marketing is defined as “the strategic creation of text, imagery, audio, or video that delivers a relevant, interesting message to a customer or prospect, while at the same time paving the way for a sale.”
I find this definition of content marketing misleading, to say the least (or essentially wrong to make it plain).
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Even if I assume that “the strategic creation” includes some strategic aspects like what you want to achieve with the content (marketing), the analysis, who the target audience is, what kind of content and which topics would speak to this audience – it leaves out the “distribution” aspect of content marketing.
Content marketing does in no way stop with the creation of content.
The “art” of content marketing also includes a strategy, analysis, distribution, …
I find it really dangerous to limit content marketing down to content creation. There are millions of people out there who get very frustrated with content marketing. Many of them have great content. They optimize their content in every way they can. But since they expect their great content to magically attract an audience on its own, simply no one knows about this great content. How will you reach and audience for your great content if you do not actively distribute it?
Content without distribution is just that: Content.
According to a study by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, only 38% of B2B companies believe their content marketing is effective. Well, maybe they all are great content creators but simply fail in the distribution of the content. Maybe they failed to define their target audience, failed at defining realistic goals for their content marketing activities or lack the analytic skills. And if they have all that, maybe they are still waiting for their content to magically attract an audience because they lack at having a distribution strategy.
For me, the above-mentioned article did not answer the initial question at all. The article rather answered the question “how is content for content marketing different to just good (professionally written) content?”
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#1: It has to move the audience
#2: It has to earn attention
#3: It has to have spark
#4: It usually relies on proven structures
#5: People have to know how to think of you
I am not going to argue whether these are the most important or the only elements of great content for content marketing – that is not the purpose of this article. Content that has all of the above may have an easier time to attract an audience, it may be easier to distribute.
But before you even consider to create content that fulfills these aspects you need to go through all the steps of defining your complete content marketing strategy. And the creation of content is only one step in this process:
1) What are your goals? What do you want to achieve,
2) What metrics do you want to use to measure your success? How can you measure them?
2) Who is your audience?
3) What kind of content is good for your audience? (Written content can be part of it, but there are many other options like videos, podcasts, etc.)
4) How are you going to distribute your content?
5) When and how are you going to decide whether your efforts are successful?
6) What are possible measures to be taken if your efforts did not reach your goals?
I have seen too many frustrated creators of great content, who wonder why their outstanding content is not giving them the results they expect. Some of the disappointment may simply come from unrealistic or wrong expectations. But from my experience, one very common reason for the frustration with content marketing is that the other aspects of content marketing apart from the actual content creation are neglected. In today’s world, increasing amounts of content are competing on the web. It is naive to expect content to reach an audience simply because it is good content.
I would go as far as saying: A great Content Marketer does not necessarily have to be a great Content Creator. A great content marketer needs to know what kind of content he needs for his target audience, and he needs to know where to get that kind of content. A great content marketer definitely knows how to distribute the content! How to find and build an audience and how to engage this audience with the content.
To be successful with content marketing you need more than to create content. Otherwise, all the great content will just float by unnoticed and eventually be forgotten. You will not reach your goals and get frustrated with the return you get for all your effort with creating this great content.
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