The Importance of Content Marketing

I always find it interesting that a great deal of thought will be put into the strategic planning of a campaign – but very little time will be devoted to creating a content strategy. After all, it is the content that will bring your campaign to life. And perhaps, more importantly, it is content that will feed your social media efforts.

Some time ago, I was interviewed by ethos3 – seven questions on storytelling – where I discussed the P-L-A-Y framework for brand engagement. I remember emphasising the importance of allowing people into the context of your world – like starting a story with “once upon a time”. For me, content marketing comes back to telling a story. It is using the techniques and devices of storytelling to change the way that someone relates to your business, brand or product. And it’s about allowing these people into the process of storytelling. For brands, that means changing the way that you think of your consumers. For businesses, it means transforming the relationships you have with customers. And for marketers, it means changing the very nature of the work that we do.

But if this is the case, where can you find out about content marketing?

Over the last 12 months, additional focus has been given to “content marketing”. The “Top 42” content marketing blogs have been tracked and compiled regularly on the Junta 42 website ( is currently ranked #16), and Guy Kawasaki has recently created a new content marketing catalogue for his site. Each of these sites provide a convenient listing of content marketing related sites – which is valuable for any marketer wanting to think through a content marketing strategy. (And while many people feel more than a little jaded about the relevance of lists with their rankings of “influence” or “authority”, I still feel that most lists like this listing of 150 social media blogs, can prove to be a great resource for all of us).

And in this interview with Bryan Person, David Alston shares his insights around the importance of content marketing. As VP Marketing for Radian6, David has a broad professional and personal interest in social media and the role that content marketing plays in lubricating our social/digital interactions. As David says, "Not everyone's a customer when you WANT them to be a customer" … so content allows you to offer value (not a product) to build a relationship. And in social media, it’s relationships that count.

So, tell me … what’s your story? Why is content important to your brand?

11 thoughts on “The Importance of Content Marketing

  1. Great post Gavin. The key definitely is making sure that you can allocate resources to ensure build that content stream. I have a long list of things I want to get out their but alas I found that sleeping still gets in the way of a lot of it 🙂 I think we may see a new “publishing” position or teams formed in companies going forward to help facilitate the development. Of course to be done correctly these people will need to be part of the communities they are publishing too and to let the community generate the story with the brand as you point out.
    I love your thinking here. Looking forward to discussing some more.

  2. Gavin:
    I enjoyed interviewing David; he’s such a smart guy.
    As I see content marketing, it’s really a way to show your passion for your industry. You’re sharing knowledge, best practices, case studies, etc. about your work, your competitors’, and others in your field(s).
    In doing so, you’re giving people valuable content that they’ll want to come back again and again to soak up. You’re also building your credibility in your industry and establishing yourself or your company as an expert.
    Plus, through regular content publishing, commenting and engaging in social media channels, you/your organization build a trusted network of confidantes, partners, customers, and evangelists.
    Bryan Person | @BryanPerson

  3. Excellent stuff. Yes, we moved from a traditional offer-based marketing approach to a content approach with our email marketing about 18 months ago and the response improved dramatically. Click throughs increased, the open rate increased etc.
    Thought leadership is a hugely important part of online marketing as a way to cut through the noise of all those ecommerce offers. Offering the best deal is no longer enough – it is all about trust and trust is generated through relationships and by providing quality, valuable content for free.

  4. David … the challenge, of course, is having employees who are empowered to carry on conversations on behalf of the company.
    Bryan … agree – it’s that share economy that CK talks about. Building trust through gifts and reciprocation has worked for thousands of years.
    Kimota … it makes sense doesn’t it? Change the way that you treat customers and it changes the way they treat you. Great to hear it is working for you!

  5. Great post and comments. I think the key with content marketing is that marketers need to listen, set up “listening posts” through social media, and actually understand what a customer’s informational needs are.
    Once that is done, it’s very possible to tell a relevant engaging story.
    I like what David said in the video – “content marketing is about offering something of value that is not your product in order to start a relationship.”
    Well said David!

  6. Great piece. I would add that great storytelling starts with great story listening. Brands need to understand what their story is, their authority to publish, before they tell a single story. Otherwise they run the risk of being inauthentic and consumers (remember motrin moms…) will out them.

  7. Great post and comments. I’d add that telling a relevant, engaging story is a continuous and consistent thread across all the media you use. Not just a one-off piece. Every time you expand your story, you’re increasing your credibility and the level of engagement you can create through the value you provide.
    Terrific video and ideas.

  8. When Reactionary Content Marketing is a Good Thing

    I just read a great post over at the Servant of Chaos, The Importance of Content Marketing. At the bottom of the post is a video interview with David Alston of Radian6.During the interview, David was asked how he prioritized what he does every day. One…

  9. Looks like I’m late joining the conversation (too much planes?)
    Anyway, thanks for mentioning our list of Top social media blog.
    This list is our way to create good & relevant content and bring it back to the community that we serve.
    We did have a huge success with its publication. This enabled us to validate and refine our algorithm while saving people in the social media community time to find relevant and rich source.
    I’d like to add that content marketing should start with listening, understanding what your target audience want to hear about, getting insights on how you may bring them valuable content, finding out how they discuss, the tone and style of their exchanges and then building a story.
    Thanks for the great post.

  10. Thanks everyone for building out this post in an entertaining and knowledgeable way! What I find fascinating is that the story is not always our own … who knows where it can go!

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