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What Is Content Marketing?

Content marketing. Brand journalism. Content PR. You've heard these terms thrown around a lot lately. But what do they mean? And how can you utilize them to expand your brand? Marketing expert Diane S. Thieke explains. 

By
Diane S. Thieke,

What Is Content Marketing?

Content marketing, brand journalism, and content PR are terms that have been ricocheting around the marketing department for the last couple of years. What are they? And why have they suddenly spiked in importance?

It could be argued that content marketing, content PR, and brand journalism are all essentially the same thing. Content marketing is the term used most frequently, but brand journalism is the term I’ve come to prefer. I’ll explain why.

Content marketing and content PR are not new. They’ve actually been around for quite some time. Marketers have leveraged storytelling to drive interest for their brands for decades – soap operas are a great example. In PR, developing and pitching thought-leadership articles for publication in trade magazines has long been a staple of the B2B media relations strategy.

So, what’s different now? 

The answer: website traffic. 

As search engines have closed the loopholes in their algorithms, old SEO tricks designed to manipulate rankings aren’t working as well anymore. In fact, they might even backfire. Google, Yahoo and their ilk are looking for websites that deserve to be highly ranked based on their content. So, the best way to rank on the first page of search results is to create a lot of very relevant content that interests your target audience.

Good thought-leadership and informational content will do that. But this content needs to be closer to journalism, and not sheep-wrapped-in-wolf’s-clothing product content that’s often associated with marketing and PR. After decades of hyperbole, consumers are the ultimate skeptics. Content needs to be useful, not sales oriented.

Prospective buyers will “google” their immediate problem, looking for potential solutions or answers to their questions. They’re not thinking: “Oh, I need that product” just quite yet. Content that seems promotional will be a turnoff. 

Brand journalism should take a more objective, bigger picture view. It focuses on trends, news, and informational content that prospective buyers can consider, share with friends, and debate. Deliver more content about different aspects or alternative solutions to problems and buyers will come back again and again.

Here are three examples of good content marketing:

Kraft has taken the simple and classic approach of providing recipes that include its products as ingredients to a digital format. The web site offers more than recipes, though. It also includes user generated content and community, nutrition information and cooking tips.

Pepsi has taken a different approach. It curates pop culture content from traditional journalism sources such as ABC News and Billboard. This supports its brand personality of being hip and cool.

American Express curates content from a diverse group of experts and packages it into a valuable resource for small business owners. It covers topics from leadership to productivity, and answers questions such as: Should I join my local chamber of commerce?

All three brands provide this content for free, and even visitors to Kraft’s site can choose to use other brands in place of Kraft’s. But by being right there with relevant information just as customers need it, these brands build loyalty and guarantee traffic to their websites.

Diane S. Thieke is the president and founder of Simply Talk Media, a digital media marketing consultancy. With more than 25 years in digital media and technology, she helps clients build stronger relationships with their customers and communities, using both social and traditional channels. Follow her on Twitter at @thiekeds or visit her blog at www.simplytalkmedia.com/blog.

Online marketing photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

About the Author

Diane S. Thieke
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