You know the old cliché of starting a paper with the dictionary definition of your subject? Well, let’s consult our old pal Wikipedia.

Content Marketing (n): Content marketing is any marketing that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire and retain those sweet, sweet customers.

Terrific stuff, Wikipedia! You’ve once again given the facts with a touch more sass than Encyclopaedia Britannica book-1798_640ever did. Well, what a broad, abstract and ambiguous concept this seems to be. How on earth will I, your humble narrator, condense this down into the sort of short and snappy blog post our clickbait junky youth of today won’t get entirely jaded by?

GET THIS.

The thing that you are reading right now – the jumble of words sitting approximately 2 feet from your striking-yet-approachable face – is an example of content marketing.

If you’d be so kind as to allow me to smash down this annoying fourth wall for a moment, I’ll lay down the facts. We, Carben Creative, have produced this little piece of online content for you, the audience, in the hope that we can retain the interest and involvement of our current base, and also pique the interest of possible new members of the tribe.

Back in 1895, John Deere, of trucker caps, redneck-chic and apparently tractors, produced a little magazine called The Furrow. It was full to the brim with profit-boosting tricks and techniques that the progressive farmer of 1895 would be a certified dunce to ignore. This is generally considered the beginning of content marketing as we know it today.

It proved to be a successful punt by the green machine maker, and pretty soon other companies were jumping hurriedly aboard the bandwagon. old-wagon-844138_1920

It is fair to say though, that content marketing didn’t really hit its stride until the advent of the internet. In these days of skipping through TV ads with your DVR, print media advertising flailing, and changing attitudes to what holds the public’s attention, more than ever companies need to be savvy in the way they market.

So, it seems that holding your product in front of a customer’s face, listing in dot-point-form its features and benefits, then yelling “BUY IT NOW”, is not going to cut it in the marketing world of today (as it somehow did during the dawn of television advertising). Marketers have realised that in order to get something from their customers, they may first have to give something.

Enter online content marketing. Giving your audience valuable and relevant information, whether it be via e-book, infographic, video, or how-to guide, will allow you to build rapport with them, and ultimately, will allow them to both be aware of you, and trust you, hopefully in a way that will lead to increased business.

Just think of the two polar opposites on the internet marketing spectrum – content marketing and spam. cms-265125_1920Then look at the previous paragraph. “Valuable and relevant information” are the key words. Is spam ever valuable? Wouldn’t have thought. Is spam ever relevant? Well, that depends on the state of your upright Johnson. 

Now think of our original John Deere example. John Deere gives its customers terrific information to boost their profits. The customers’ profits are then boosted. Said customer takes said profits back to John Deere and asks for “a big ol’ shiny tractor, please and thank’ye”.

So, what content will help you drive your venture? You first need to ask yourself what information your client base would enjoy, or is crying out for. Will you take Australia’s Metro Trains lead, and go for an attention grabbing video like “Dumb Ways To Die? Will you attack content marketing in a sharp, humourous way, like Old Spice does in their terrific Twitter feed?

Heck, you may even find yourself, Inception style, writing an article about content marketing for your content marketing. It’s all a dream within a dream within a dream, kids.