content vs. Content (Marketing)

There are content strategist, content creators, content curators, website content, video content, audio content, blog content, all sorts of content.          And then there’s Content.

A little clarification, please…

The idea of content, all by itself, is quite literally anything created to be viewed, read, listened to.  This general type of content includes product descriptions, FAQs, videos of your cat walking across the piano, product brochures, really anything.

Go to any website, and everything you read is ‘content.’  The history, the about us, the contact us, the site map, the FAQs, everything.

Just ask a content strategist.  It’s their job to plan for, execute, govern, and archive every piece of content that could be found on a website.  Some of what they oversee is Content Marketing content, efforts that impact their audiences based on customer wants & needs; much of what they oversee is not, and is just ‘content’ –  necessary (most of the time) information that the site wishes to push out to prospects and customers.  It doesn’t necessarily have the best interests of the reader/viewer/listener in mind, although it may be optimized, governed, tagged, and/or created following user experience (UX) guidelines.

Don’t get me wrong – there are some terrific content strategists out there and their websites reflect this:  engaging, experiential, customer-centric.    But in turn, there are just websites, just like there are just magazines, video, newsletters, and so on – filled with content.  Not necessarily engaging, customer-centric, or anything beyond self-serving, but with content nonetheless.

Some content works within Content Marketing; all Content Marketing is content.

Big C Content

I like to think of Content Marketing as “Big C” Content, and all other content as small c content.

So what marks the difference?  How do we get from content with a small c to Big C Content?

Well, the key step is to focus on higher-order needs of the customer. What does this mean?

Here’s a great example:  I once worked with a custom communications agency and their global chemical company client which manufactured, amongst hundreds of other things, a unique termicide…that is, a termite killing chemical.  And, along with microsite content, the marketer wished to put a custom magazine into the mailboxes of prospective homeowners who lived in upscale homes located in ‘termite-friendly’ regions.

Now, just like you, my first reaction was ‘who on earth wants to read a magazine about termicides?’  It’s one thing to want resolution once you’ve discovered your home’s already been infested with the wood-eaters, but quite another to want to make the topic salient enough to want to prevent it, without beating the prospect over the head with the idea.  After all……yeech.

The solution came about with the agency and client determining the higher-order needs of the customer.  Telling the prospects solely about termicides would surely seem to benefit the marketer, but not really the customer.  But speaking to the higher-order need of what termite-production provides – that is, ensuring protection of their greatest investment, of making their home life that much better – the Content flowed naturally and effectively.  Yes, the Content mix included the termicide brand and articles about termite protection, but was chiefly about doing things for one’s home, for one’s family, for oneself that preserved, enhanced, and protected these.

termite

And it worked.  Not only did the program accomplish its stated marketing objectives, but also won awards for design.  Content about termites!  Truly leveraging Big C Content.

The next posting will talk about a simple formula to ensure your content is Content!

And here’s a hint:  I’ve deemed it Old MacDonald’s Method for Engaging Content.

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2 responses to “content vs. Content (Marketing)

  1. That is an interesting story. In fact it is a perfect example of how marriage between good writing and good marketing skills can actually make money and achieve good customer experience.

    Ummm…termites? Wow! :)

    • @moitrayee: yes, it’s an interesting (and true…however ‘icky’) story — and you’ve defined what content marketing is all about: the combination of good writing and good marketing leading toward a (positive) customer experience. And yes, it does lead to making money.

      Thanks for your comments!

      Keith

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