Although content marketing has been around for a long time, it has become more important with the creation of online markets and advertising. Content marketing is different than advertising because it is not primarily based on selling you a product. It gives you valuable and relevant information that can be used without being strictly an advertisement for a product.
The difference between advertising and content marketing can be subtle. Well before the internet, Benjamin Franklin used content marketing in his Poor Richard’s Almanack to support his printing business. The content (written by Franklin himself) contained weather forecasts, poems, witty sayings and proverbs, and a great deal of other content that had little or nothing to do with printing. It was a popular seller, however, and supported Franklin’s “brand.”
The almanack was successful because it gave customers valuable and relevant information.
Skipping through the intervening centuries
Franklin was, of course, not the only person or business to adapt content marketing to their advertising needs.
- Michelin. The tire company created a lasting legacy with their Michelin Guide Books. As the automobile became the preferred method of travel in the United States, the guide books let you know what there was to see and where you could eat and sleep along the way.
- John Deere. This company’s Furrow magazine, starting in 1895, featured accurate, well written and informative articles about farming and land conservation that went beyond company advertisements. Although the Furrow was written in house by John Deere, it was (and remains) a non-commercial magazine that many farmers still rely on.
- Soap Operas. Sponsored TV and radio shows in the mid-20th century made companies of all sizes household names. The reach of broadcast media, combined with the story telling aspect of the shows meant that potential customers would tune in regularly and the sponsors would benefit from the name recognition.
Although there are numerous other examples of well-done content marketing prior to the internet era, these graphically illustrate the strength of content marketing over advertising. In these cases, content marketing strengthened the brand name while still informing or entertaining their customers.
Adapting to the Age of Google
Online content marketing has been a factor since the first website with content was created. It is, without a doubt, one of the major reasons behind the design of Google’s algorithm. Good content, that can keep potential customers on a website, will increase the ratings of that website. We may not know how much weight content is given, but we do know that it is very important for successful Google ratings.
For companies that are just getting started with online marketing or wish to increase their impact on the internet, content marketing is the most effective way to go about it. However, there are several caveats that need to be reiterated.
- Content must be original. Whether you get your content in house or through subcontractors, originality is important.
- Content must be good. In addition to drawing customers to your website, content has to keep them there. The longer someone spends on your website, the better your SEO rating becomes. Quality content is critical to keeping your visitors engaged.
- Target content to your customers, not your marketing. The goal of content marketing is to define and improve your brand name, not sell a specific item. By creating content that is engaging and informative you will improve your SEO and increase your sales.
As the content creation experts at Big Vision Marketing state, “The creation of a content marketing plan, for any business, starts with an understanding of what their customers want, not what the business thinks the customer needs.”