The difference between the two—content and content marketing— is significant.
Content by itself is just a tool. Plenty of companies have been using content to market their business for a long time, this isn’t anything new—whether it’s a proposal, ad, brochure, rack card, marketing kit, email, stationary, blog post or newsletter. Most of this content is entirely promotional, focused on the company: their products, services, accolades, features and benefits—not the customer or the information that they are most interested in and find valuable.
Content marketing is how you use the tool. It is the creation of free valuable content that has a marketing purpose. For indispensable marketing readers that purpose is awareness, educating and building know, like and trust, enough to do business with you. The goal of content marketing is consumption, then behavior.
For example, my company created an awesome newsletter, Indispensable Marketing Dispatch and we exchange it for your email address and your permission to educate you further about our services.
Why content marketing—not just content—is needed
Here is the simple truth: most prospects and customers aren’t interested in your company, your vision statement or your awards. So what do they care about? Naturally, they care about their needs, wants and businesses. Content marketing is about publishing content that focuses on the problems and desires of the prospect and customer. Healing prospects and customers true pain points with content (okay, a bit over the top, but true none the less).
Any business that wants to differentiate their products and services, attract prospects, convert leads, get found online and offline, engage their community and ultimately grow their business needs to get strategic about content marketing. There is nothing compelling about content alone. Every company creates content, but content marketing is using content for a distinct marketing purpose: to attract, educate, nuture and convert.