Content Marketing? Simple, but Not Easy.
Recently a site that I've long respected posted a question on one of its social media channels. They asked a simple question, "How do you define content marketing?" Sadly, many of the answers this post received were examples of exactly what content marketing shouldn't be.
There was the usual group trying to 'spin' words until you get dizzy (please see my dissertation on my hatred for the terms spin and wordsmith.) They broke out clichés like "enhanced thought leadership," "prospect engagement," or this doozy, "Content marketing designates that the philosophy behind producing or sharing content, by an entity...."
Sorry, I was rendered unconscious by a sudden attack of Biz Speak. Let's continue... "The content, or distribution of content is optimized in such a way that facilitates..."
Sorry again. Someone had to use a defibrillator on me. My will to live was drained out of me reading that.
So do I have anything better? Yes, I do.
Content marketing is simple: it's delivering the right message to the right people in the way that best suits them.
I'm saddened (but not surprised) that so many of my colleagues choose to be all wordy and verbose in describing what we do. There's no magic in creating good content; there's no alchemy. It's the result of a combination of hard work, knowledge, experience, and a willingness to learn.
Writing content is like cooking. Basically everyone can cook. A few more take the time to learn techniques and add flair to their dishes; a select few can consider themselves chefs. And at that elite level, chefs know that simple is often better – letting the ingredients, or in this case, your products and stories, speak for themselves.
Unfortunately, too many communicators and marketers act like pretentious wannabe chefs. They focus on adding more and more layers, trying to impress their consumers with additional and irrelevant ingredients that only serves to mask the true essence of what's being consumed.
True excellence in content marketing comes down to simplicity. That doesn't mean it's easy to do, but it takes skill, confidence, and experience to craft a message that resonates instead of obfuscates.
Content marketing is a focus on the end user: what's in it for them. A marketer, communicator, or SEO Grand Poobah that gets in the way of delivering that message is doing their client a disservice.
Simple content doesn't have to be soulless. Humour has its place; creativity has its place; confusion does not.
Having a strong vocabulary doesn't mean that you have to use it in its entirety each time you write. And you often sound smarter using plain speech to illustrate your points.
Content marketing is simple. But it's not easy. If you can stop yourself from getting in the way of the message and provide real, accessible value to your potential customers, then you're well ahead of the game.
Your thoughts? How do you approach content marketing? What messages resonate with you? Comments, as always, are open!