What Is Content Marketing?

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“Stewarding other people’s money as if it’s our own.” 

We’ve been around for over ten years now, and this motto is one we still hold to. I first came up with this simple mantra after meeting one-on-one with 50 business owners with the goal of understanding two simple questions: 

  1. What keeps you up at night?
  2. How do you do marketing and advertising?

The answers to these two questions have served as a backdrop to my strategic approach to building 434, and ultimately created my “why.”

But it wasn’t the answers people fired back at me about various marketing and advertising tactics that really shaped the ethos of 434. We developed our mission based on the answers to the follow-up question:

“Why do you do marketing and advertising?”

The array of ambiguous responses was common across all types of business leaders. Most of the answers to why were “a gut-thing” or “something we have always done.” The answers were rarely data-driven or objective-oriented. 

There has to be a better way.

“It’s 100 percent science. There’s nothing artistic about marketing. There is art in the execution of a tactic, to be able to connect to the consumer in an imaginative way, but marketing in itself is a science. It’s like accounting. It’s understanding your competition, it’s about understanding who you’re going to grow business from. It’s understanding trends, it’s research, it’s science. It’s thinking it through and reinventing it all the time. The only way to do it is you do it with facts. It’s not a gut-based discipline — it’s a science; it’s a fact-based discipline.”Sergio Zyman Former CMO of Coca-Cola

434 started with research and evolved through experience.

I’ll be transparent… 10 years ago, I knew nothing about the tactics of marketing. I was a finance grad who just finished a corporate stint leading a 200 person business unit. I was also a Six Sigma Green Belt who thoroughly enjoyed using research, data, and empathy to produce operational efficiencies.

When I started 434, I started with research and data. With every new marketing client, we pushed for an in-depth research project to better understand the end customer and industry. In most cases, research like this had never been done and our clients found it helpful from both a client acquisition standpoint but also an operational one. 

As an agency, this research allowed us to select appropriate marketing tactics and dive in. It helped us set up Objective Key Results (OKRs) that we monitored closely. It also gave me a front-row seat to what worked and what didn’t, adapting tactics as needed to 1) reduce customer acquisition costs and/or 2) increase revenue.

Why content marketing?

“Content Marketing” was introduced to me by my colleague, Noah Barnett, in 2013. He had worked for HubSpot and encouraged me to jump on board the inbound marketing train as a tactic to provide to customers. 

So we did, but that approach did not last long.

“Inbound Marketing” was a brilliant move. Hubspot’s founders built a category and sold a solution that their software was uniquely positioned for. Again, brilliant. But, in my opinion, Hubspot’s programmatic approach fell short and was simply the tip of the iceberg. Enter stage left: Content Marketing.

So What is Content Marketing?    

At its core––content marketing is a complex and nuanced marketing tactic used to resource your target audience with the goal of moving them closer to purchasing from your brand. 

Let’s break this down.

It’s complex and nuanced…

There are many approaches to Content Marketing as there are many content types and many ways to promote and distribute that content. This is where 434 places focus:

It’s a marketing tactic…

Content Marketing is not your one-and-done marketing strategy–it is a tactic that meshes well with other sales efforts. 

It boosts visibility…

Getting in front of an audience is no easy feat. There’s a lot of noise out there, and we as individuals are constantly barraged with media in an attempt to capture our attention. Content marketing, specifically SEO-focused strategies, can help get eyes on your website and bolster your brand reputation.

It resources your target audience…

Imagine you are backpacking in the woods. About 8 miles in, you find a camping spot. After setting up your tent, you start hunting for kindling and wood with the goal of having a nice fire to sit by that night. 

As you walk around your campsite, you start to collect some kindling. Then you find some larger tree limbs that have recently fallen. Then, you really luck out! You come across a recently used campsite 100 yards away, where some nicely chopped wood has been left behind. 

Content Marketing parallels this simple analogy. Your audience has a goal in mind, and the better you resource them with what they need to accomplish their goal, the more likely they are to become a customer. Don’t provide them with kindling – provide them with nicely chopped wood.

It results in…

Like any good marketing tactic, the goal is to produce measurable results. The results might not be a 1:1 attribution, but they should always help uplift the objectives of a marketing strategy.

We help B2B organizations optimize their website with SEO efforts and a content strategy that delivers.

Over the years, we’ve offered every marketing tactic under the sun–but content is what’s stuck. We’re passionate about partnering with sales and marketing executives to create lasting impact through well-informed digital strategies. If you’d like to learn more about what we offer, or want to learn more about content marketing, reach out to us today.

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