There’s an entire industry around “content marketing,” but what is it anyway?

In Epic Content Marketing, Joe Pulizzi sets out this formal definition:

Content marketing is the marketing and business process for creating and distributing valuable and compelling content to attract, acquire, and engage with a defined and understood target audience–with the objective of driving profitable customer action.

Phew. Glad we cleared that up.

Actually, Pulizzi goes on to clarify the definition. And add six additional definitions.

No wonder companies struggle with building content when we can’t even come up with a clean definition of the what and the why.

It’s not Pulizzi’s fault. We’re making this stuff way too complicated.

Forget marketing. Build content that’s useful.

Lone Cyclist Crossing a Bridge

The best content gives your audience something it wants or needs. You’ve done your job if your content:

  • answers your customers’ questions
  • solves their problems
  • provides takeaways
  • points people to other resources

I’ve never heard anyone say, “They’re helpful. I think I’ll go somewhere else.”

Start with the cornerstones.

A beach of stones

My friend Tom Martin is right: it’s a lot easier to build content if you begin with the big idea.

For example, I’ve written four blog posts in recent weeks that in one way or another pull ideas from a master source (in this case, my 2015 Trends presentation). None is a “trends post.” But this one “cornerstone” presentation has given me lots of cobblestones to work with.

And that’s just blog content. Now imagine if I create a 10 trends infographic? Build individual tweets, or Google+ posts, or LinkedIn updates around each trend?

Hopefully you can start to see how you can take your company’s big ideas, initiatives, and events and build out cobblestones.

Your audience isn’t omnipresent.

The biggest reason we make content marketing so difficult is because we think everything needs to be new.

New to whom?

Here’s a secret: you can recycle or repurpose almost everything. (Well, everything that’s worth recycling or repurposing.) Unless your audience is very small and never changes, chances are most people didn’t read every blog post, see every tweet, watch all your videos, sit in on every webinar, and attend all your talks. In other words, the content you think you’re putting out over and over and over again is reaching different people each time. I might think I’ve used a particular visual 10 times in a week, but you’ve likely seen it once, maybe twice–if at all.

Sure, sometimes it’s a repeat. But I’ve never complained when I’ve seen good content repeated via different channels and on multiple platforms. Actually, I usually kick myself for not doing a better job of repeating my own stuff.

You can think in terms of content marketing. Or you can think in terms of content that resonates, engages your audience, and keeps your business top of mind. Just don’t think it’s rocket science. It is hard work–but it’s not that complicated.