What Exactly Does Content Marketing Mean?

by Jenna Sindle

No I don't work for government, just like the pic!Today’s post is provided by Chris Parente, Managing Director at Strategic Communications Group. In his guest post below, originally appearing on his personal digital publication, Chris offers his insights based on professional experience on the ins and outs of one of the industry’s hottest trends: content marketing.

The concept of content marketing is red hot these days when discussing effective communications. It’s not a new concept, and I’ve been discussing it on this site for almost two years. Lately the concept has reached the fully hyped phase.

Like many terms that become hugely popular, content marketing can mean different things to different people. After all, anything can be called content — even an old press release or brochure. As the term has gone mainstream, the noise level has greatly increased. Every PR shop, social media boutique and web development firm claims they know how to do it well.

For my clients, content marketing means adopting the mind set of a publisher, and putting out high quality content that demonstrates the thought leadership of the client. That content is promoted via social media channels to a very specific demographic, attracting a highly focused audience. A segment of that audience is then appropriately converted into prospects, and integrated into the sales process of the client. Many of my clients today use systems like Eloqua, eTrigue and Pardot.

Admittedly that’s not the easiest concept to distill down to a single sentence. In a way that makes sense, since done right content marketing isn’t easy. It requires a long term commitment and a cultural shift towards conversational marketing. If you’re in the market and a vendor tells you content marketing is easy, my advice is to run in the opposite direction.

I’ve recently started working with a firm called CCE out of Alexandria, Virginia. They have produced video that has been an effective part of some client’s content execution. In their own marketing video, CCE tries to define what they do for clients. They don’t actually use the term content marketing, it’s video centric (naturally) and they talk about using house email lists to promote.

But I think their definition hits a lot of the right notes. John Carter, a co-founder of CCE told me what they aim to do is package strategy, technical capability and analytics with CCE’s history in filmmaking to create a more dynamic portfolio of content for clients:

CCE Video Portal from CCE Video Portal on Vimeo.

What do you think? Drop a comment or a line with what content marketing means to you.