Is Content Marketing A Strategy, A Tactic Or A Channel?
Content marketing is a growing field and an area that many people and companies are focused on right now. However, the question that often emerges from discussions is, where does it fit within an organization?
Is content marketing a channel like SEO, Paid or Social Media? Is it a tactic within a digital marketing channel? Is it part of an SEO or social media program? Is it a strategy you use to support an overall marketing goal?
There are so many opinions as to how content marketing should fit into your overall marketing mix, but it seems to me that trying to make it fit may be the mistake.
I don’t see content marketing as a standalone tactic — it shouldn’t be part of another practice or channel. To me, content marketing should actually live above the channels and bring unity and cohesion to all messaging.
“Content Done Correctly”
I don’t think content is its own channel. If it’s going to be done correctly, it’s more important than any single channel.
Okay, you’re probably thinking right about now, what exactly is “content done correctly?” I’m glad you asked or thought that.
Content marketing is your brand telling the story your audience is interested in and in a way that they find useful. Both online and offline marketing channels can and should be part of an overall content marketing plan.
It’s important for brands to tell their story in a manner their customers can understand, and more than that, the story needs to be cohesive, regardless of what channel the audience receives it in.
In order to understand this concept, think about planning a birthday party. When you plan a party, you choose a theme, right?
So your overall content strategy is your theme. You want invitations, decorations, food, goodie bags and games that are tied to your theme so it makes sense and feels well-thought-out.
Maybe you’ve chosen to host a cartoon character party for your child and the main colors are red, yellow and blue. You wouldn’t order a pink and purple cake and get green and orange decorations, right?
You’d choose a cake decorated with the cartoon character and red, yellow or blue frosting accents. You’d choose decorations that matched your theme — it doesn’t matter whether they’re from the party store, homemade or custom ordered. What matters is that they align with the overall primary color and the cartoon character theme.
Content marketing is the same, in my view.
Tell A Cohesive Story
If my overall strategy is to sell trendy high heels this season, then my content marketing strategy and tactics need to focus on high heels for the season. If I create a newsletter for my brand and focus on sandals, boots and scarves but no high heels, it doesn’t make a lot of sense.
If my website is all about high heels but my blog posts are focused on purses, and my social media posts are all about tablet and phone cases, my brand has no unified marketing plan or content strategy, and my customers really don’t know where I’m focused, and I appear scattered.
A great way of weaving it all together is to think of the marketing mix as your birthday party. You want all the pieces to go together and make sense.
Rather than having all the channels working independently, unifying them with a common content marketing goal helps keep everyone focused.
You’re focused on selling high heels for the season, so your website’s home page has information on the latest styles; your blog has a post on the top five high heel trends or an in-depth piece on the design of one of your new high heels; your Facebook has sneak peek information on the latest high heels; and your Pinterest has a board dedicated to the new high heels and outfits to pair with them. With all these tactics, you’re presenting a great, cohesive story to your audience.
You’re also providing content that’s useful and unique to each channel.
Consumers want content that’s engaging — they want quick reads, fun pictures and inspirational images. As a brand, it’s important to create content that’s unique to each channel but supports the overall goals and maintains a unified message.
Consumers don’t buy something the first time they see the product; they need to see it multiple times in order to convert.
By providing unique content in each channel, tied to a single content strategy, you provide a better user experience.
Content marketing shouldn’t live within only one channel — it should help shape everything you do and help you tell the cohesive story. Keep things unified, and let content marketing strategies shape your overall marketing approach.