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What is content marketing?

It was Microsoft founder Bill Gates who predicted that the internet would evolve into a ‘marketplace of ideas, experiences, and products – a marketplace of content’ in his essay Content is King, published online in 1996. 

He also anticipated that people (and businesses) who leveraged this truth, this innate desire for humans to explore, learn, and acquire, would ultimately achieve the most success. At its heart, content is simply information used to inform and entertain. Some examples of content include blog posts, how-to videos, FAQs, open evenings, product launches, social media posts, emails, webinars, leaflets and posters.   

A quick definition

Content marketing is a way of attracting customers or clients by providing them with engaging, relevant and valuable information that will lead them to access the product or service on offer. 

It differs from traditional marketing in that it’s a slow-burn approach; rather than directly advertising to your audience, you’re drawing them in by building trust and clarity about what your business does and how it can solve their most pressing problems. 

How to use content

For this reason, the type of content you create and the channels you distribute it through depends on the issues your customer base faces and how they access information. For example, an estate agency may use social media to encourage first-time buyers to enquire about the perfect starter home. In contrast, print media such as leaflets may work better for targeting people who are considering downsizing after retirement. 

Ultimately, you still want a good return on investment, so it’s worth putting in the effort to craft content that will generate the most positive feelings towards your business. So, when planning your content, make sure it’s:

Relevant – people are busy, so they won’t spend time looking at content that doesn’t apply to them.
Fresh – new or refreshed content will always be more interesting than something you’ve seen repeatedly.
Valuable – Give your customers a reason to interact with your business on various channels, from email to socials, by sharing helpful information, time-sensitive deals or discounts, or by entertaining them.
Consistent – deliver high-quality content in a predictable manner, at specific dates and times, using a recognisable brand voice. 
Targeted – customers respond well when a business sends content based on their interests, age, gender and other factors, so take time to segment your audience and marketing efforts for the best results. 

Once the basics are nailed down, you can focus on content strategy. This involves regularly evaluating previous content campaigns to analyse what’s working well and what could be improved, thinking about how best to distribute different types of content, and who is responsible for creating specific content forms.


Remember: content is king.