“Content Marketing” is probably the biggest marketing innovation of the last few years, although to be honest, it’s not something totally new, unlike, say, pay-per-click advertising some ten years earlier. Content marketing is just the formalisation of something which many businesses had done for years, namely providing useful information for customers and prospects without selling.
When I was a design engineering magazine editor in the 1990s, the items which received by far the most “reader requests” were the likes of the SKF Bearing Handbook and the Pilz Guide to Machinery Safety. These epic publications provided masses of essential technical background data found nowhere else, and were an absolute godsend to any engineer working in the field. While they must have cost a lot of money to write and print, they offered two great benefits to the companies which wrote them: thousands of requests for a copy (and therefore a huge prospect database), and instant prestige as being the company which knows what it’s talking about. Your industry has probably had its own equivalents over the years.
Now, thanks to the internet, content marketing has come down to a more focused level. We can create content such as articles or videos on much narrower subjects and really own that topic, in the knowledge that if we present it well, it’ll always be found.
At its simplest level, it requires us to just go one stage further than an announcement every time we introduce something new. We know to concentrate on benefits rather than features in our announcement; so if our latest blue widget enables users to count antisprockets without backlighting for the first time, then that’s the benefit with which we’ll headline the product announcement. But alongside this, it’s “content marketing” to write an article called “How to count antisprockets without backlighting” and present the blue widget as the obvious method of doing that. No overt selling, just sound technical advice – and the answer to the question posed by the searches which people are going to make.