Content Marketing involves the creation and sharing of material—typically online—that does not explicitly promote a brand but is intended to subtly stimulate interest in its products or services. I like to think of it as a soft sell...a way for you to remind customers, donors, and audiences that you're out there—to create a connection—so that when they're ready to buy, donate, or volunteer, they will think of you.
Here's an example. The realtor I used to buy my home put me on his email list, so that once a month or so I received his list of for-sale homes in the area. I rarely even opened these emails, because I'd just moved—I was happy where I was. But then I received one from him that got my attention. It wasn't a list of homes—instead, the email was rife with ways to take care of the house you already own. How to keep your heating costs low; how to clear your rain spout. Hmm. I scrolled down to see the listings, but nope, not a one. Just a small tag at the bottom that let me know he had plenty of properties to show, and that if I wanted a list of them to CLICK HERE—on a link that took me right to his website. Smart.
Content marketing doesn't always have to provide information.
You can tell a story, offer some fun, or just let people know what you've been working on. One of the stock photo companies that web designers count on sends out an email every week with links to articles on how to be improve a site's look and feel. One of the newsletters I subscribe to is a local graphic designer's. It's not much more than sketches from whatever she's been working on, but it's interesting to see her process. Why does this work? Well, next time I need to hire an outside designer to help with one of my projects I'll likely think of her first.
And content marketing can also includes some "outside the box" strategies. One of the best examples is Coke's personalized bottles. A few years ago, Coke started putting people's names on its bottles — the product didn't change, but now, Coke was personal. People who didn't even drink Coke were looking for their name on the bottles and collecting bottles with their family members' names.
During this time I had a meeting with a client and noticed several Coke bottles lined up on the shelf behind his desk. When I asked about them, he said, "My kids." Then I asked him how often he drank Coke. "Never," he answered. "I'm diabetic." Now there's a customer Coke would never had gotten were it not for a campaign like this one.
Want more examples? Just google "Content Marketing" —there's a host of sites that have gathered up some of the best.