Hat tip to P. Martin for the link to Chris Brogan’s guest post on Copyblogger about Content Marketing. I will confess that I think the term content marketing is a phrase devoid of much meaning. In the comments section of the post, Brogan agrees but says he just uses the terms that everyone is Googling.
It was hard to pass by this post though due to Brogan’s very quotable declaration that “Content marketing is weaponized storytelling.”
Brogan says that he used that phrase at a conference, but he isn’t sure that he really believes it and amended it to the admittedly less evocative, “Content marketing is sales-minded storytelling.”
His premise is that content marketing isn’t branding. He feels that only really big companies with large budgets can afford to build brand awareness. The little guy has to depend on content marketing which is aimed at “helping your market make a decision of some kind.” This doesn’t mean constantly making a hard sell.
Your site/email newsletter/podcast/whatever should consist of something like this:
Some posts that are just friendly and storytelling.
Some posts that are gentle pushes towards a next action or an ask.
Some posts that are pure selly-sell, as I like to call it. Apparently over here they call that an offer.
Some (but very few) totally off-topic posts.
This would be true of a blog, an email list, or whatever. I believe that the real goal of content marketing is to advance your business.
This is where it’s tricky. Because the business goal just might be entertainment. The business goal of my writing a guest post on Copyblogger is to get you to consider signing up for my awesome free newsletter.
Based on this great post (okay, decent post), you’re supposed to now think, “Wow, I really like what Chris had to say. I think I’ll give his newsletter a try.”
Did I charge you any money? No. Did I tell you about my product or service in the body of this post? No. What I did was start what I hope to be a relationship with you and I’ve invited you to get my awesome newsletter. That’s me content marketing.
Do you feel dirty? No. (You might already be dirty, but that’s awesome, and yet, not my fault.)
One of the commenters on this post felt Chris was wrong and made too many generalizations. His company has focused on positioning themselves as experts in the industry and gets great response from that. He said the only time responses have flagged was when they tried to inject content. Chris agrees that different industries and markets require different approaches.
Acknowledging that, I have to think that Chris’ approach is more aligned with the needs of arts organizations which largely employ storytelling to engage their customers/audiences.
At my theatre, we don’t do it with our newsletters as much as I would like. They have been mostly focused on communicating information about shows with interesting visuals and language and keeping text to a minimum. We are still evolving that approach.
However, our Facebook page has been a place where we share all sorts of information about the arts in general along with information about the shows. We have done this somewhat out of a desire to keep people engaged with the organization during the gaps between shows.
We want to give people a reason to continually visit our Facebook page, but also communicate information about arts careers and opportunities to the students and artists whom our facility serves. We have a television monitor with information about our shows in the lobby and it just occurred to me that would also be a great place to share some of the interesting tidbits we post on our Facebook page alongside our show information.
Many of these ideas can be offered free to the public without making a hard sell or talking about your company. So think about it. What resources are available to you? What can you do?