By IABC Phoenix Member, Katarina Kovacevic, Redefined Communication
Elise Redlin-Cook is the content & marketing manager for Vertical Measures, an internet marketing company in Phoenix that helps clients improve their online presence and obtain higher search engine rankings. In this role, Elise oversees the marketing, advertising, and promotional staffs, and the execution of all their activities. Her top priority is to ensure that both search engines and customers can easily find and connect with Vertical Measures’ products and services.
According to Elise, “content marketing” is an umbrella term that encompasses different marketing formats meant to engage and compel consumers through the creation and sharing of, well, content. (Make that, useful content). While the idea of delivering information to audiences isn’t a new one in the communications industry, the purpose of content marketing – to inform your customer, not simply “spout the virtues of your products or services” – might be difficult for some in your organization to grasp. This is mainly because content marketing essentially aims to make a company’s once-proprietary informational assets available to the masses.
We thought the topic would be of value to our members and their organizations, so we sat down with Elise for a brief Content Marketing 101.
Katarina Kovacevic: How would you describe content marketing to someone who had never heard the term before?
Elise Redlin-Cook: Content marketing subscribes to the notion that delivering high-quality, relevant and educational information to consumers drives profitable consumer action. It has proven benefits like increased brand recognition and loyalty, and is often related to decreased customer service costs, increased customer retention and increased lead generation, if done effectively.
Katarina: What makes content marketing different from other forms of marketing that we’ve seen in the past, or currently see in our industry?
Elise: The notion of sharing content as a means of persuading decision-making has driven content marketers to make their once-proprietary informational assets available to the masses. Marketers skilled in this art research their target consumers’ needs and problems, create new information that meets these needs, and share it via any and all media channels.
A content marketing piece can take the form of print newsletters or magazines, e-mail marketing, websites, micro-sites, informational white papers, free guides, webinars, audio recordings and podcasts, videos and even include in-person events.
The difference between a content marketing piece and a traditional marketing piece is primarily the goal or intended purpose of the product. Information shared within this piece is not designed to spout the virtues of your products or services. It is meant to inform, entertain or otherwise engage a specific target customer about key industry issues.
The motivation behind content marketing is the belief that educating the end consumer ultimately results in the brand’s recognition as a thought leader and industry expert. In the end, this will also increase sales.
Katarina: A lot of people think social media and content marketing is the same thing. Can you please explain the relationship?
Elise: Social media is just the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogue. Without something engaging and enlightening to talk about, social media interaction becomes just noise.
I think content serves social media, and social media supports great content as it is an additional distribution channel. To me, social media is just a communication tool for content marketing…and a mighty powerful one at that…just like magazines, brochures, websites, etc.
With so many different social media networks, a marketer can search for their specific audience and interact within that framework to infiltrate the on-going conversation.
Marketers can not only add to it, but also listen and gather invaluable market research about what their audience truly desires.
Katarina: Why do you think content marketing is an important thing for professional communicators to understand? And why do you think it’s an important initiative for companies?
Elise: It is important because it helps to establish your company as an industry thought leader. Content marketing helps build dedicated brand activists because consumers see that you are truly dedicated to providing them with the most relevant information on your industry or brand, not just simply pushing out a marketing message every chance you get.
It is reported that 9 out of 10 organizations market with content. Companies use 8 content tools on average, the most popular being: social media (excluding blogs) (79%), articles (78%), in-person events (62%) and e-newsletters (61%). However, this survey also reports that marketers are not confident in which tactics to use and are unsure of how effective they are. It’s important that marketers and business owners seek out educational opportunities and training in this discipline.
Katarina: That brings us to our last question! Where can IABC Phoenix members go to learn more about content marketing?
Elise: On April 7, Vertical Measures is giving a full day workshop in Phoenix on The Convergence of Search, Social and Content Marketing. The workshop will guide attendees through the 8 critical steps to creating, implementing, and sustaining a successful content marketing program. In fact, I’ve secured an exclusive discount for IABC Phoenix members. Input the code “IABC” when you register to get 40% off the fee. But get to it soon because space is limited! There are also a number of great blogs that you can follow. I suggest starting at Content Marketing Institute.