What is content marketing?

Today, marketers are recognising that the traditional and online media spaces have fragmented so much that they just don’t have the budget to cover enough bases. You have to worry about social media, print, broadcast, web, mobile devices and more—and each of them requires words, pictures, audio and video that’s appropriate to the platform. Consumers are happy to consume media on the platform of their choice as long as it is relevant, unique, engaging and entertaining. In fact consumers will use their own social media platforms help distribute great content by sharing with their peers.

So content marketing involves harnessing the talents of great editors, writers, photographers, producers and designers to produce content to engage audiences. Generally, they use the same skills they have used to engage audiences on the newsstand to connect brands with their customers in a medium that was actually enjoyed by the reader. That’s what we do. In fact, Engage Content is one of a few agencies in the unique position to be able to combine our teams traditional journalistic backgrounds (we all started in newspapers and newsstand magazines back when they were fun) with over 20 years experience in creating branded content through what was known as custom publishing and is now content marketing.

timeThe power of content marketing comes from deep engagement that is very cost-effective—something we’ve all learned how to do from traditional publishing, then from custom publishing (the precursor of content marketing). As long as the balance of quality editorial that would be enjoyed by the reader and subtle but transparent promotion of the brand and product was right, custom publishing enjoyed huge success. For the cost of just a few TV commercial spots, companies could connect with their audience for a conversation that lasted on average over 30 mins (see our research page for details).

See, while content marketing is buzzword these days, it’s one of the oldest forms of marketing.

One of the earliest examples everyone refers to is the John Deere tractor company back in 1895. The company recognised that its audience of farmers were hungry for content and by creating this content the company could connect with its customers. The magazine was distributed to customers (farmers) and presented content that helped farmers make a success of their plot as well as showcase how John Deere equipment could help in that success. Successful farmers had more profits and could afford more equipment.

This recipe was repeated slowly but surely for the next 100 years and became known as custom publishing, customer publishing and custom media. Airlines launching inflight magazines, car companies and many luxury brands were early adaptors of customer magazines.

The next big surge in growth for the content publishing industry happened in the 1990’s. Marketers had recognised that they were spending the vast majority of their budget attracting new customers, at high cost and in a constant battle with their competitors. A few bright sparks realised that businesses also lost a percentage of customers every year. These customers were more valuable and cheaper to reach than new customers. Marketing budgets shifted to retention strategies. The first step for most organisations was Customer Retention/Relationship Strategies (CRM) and loyalty programs. The back end of most of these strategies was the collation of customer data.

John Deere's The Furrow magazine, an early example of content marketing.

John Deere’s The Furrow magazine,
an early example of content marketing.

The next question was how to use this data and how to connect with customers. Direct mail and email marketing took off but consumers were inundated and at times annoyed with the amount of material in their letter box and inbox.

Customer magazines enjoyed massive growth, first in the UK then in the Australian, US and European markets. Australia was actually quite an early adopter with successful agencies growing in Sydney and Melbourne. Nowadays content agencies are popping up everywhere to fill the knowledge gap created as marketers and brands try to become publishers.

In the brave new digital world, content is being used not just for customer retention but also as an acquisition tool. Search engine algorithms are becoming more and more sophisticated and you can’t play the same old SEO tricks. The path to success is unique, quality content that provides consumers with the information they seek in an entertaining platform. We know how to create content that will deliver on your marketing and SEO objectives and is of such a high quality your audience will enjoy their interaction with it, share it and it will be a path to engage with your business.

So in answer to our original question, content marketing is using engaging content that entertains the intended audience while delivering on our clients objectives be they retention, acquisition or SEO based. We’re using the same skills we used to create some of the countries leading magazines to connect with audiences in print, on the web, email, iPad/tablet and mobile apps and any other opportunities the future and our clients throw at us.

Our content connects audiences through website content Google and other search engines love, social media, video, email and of course still through good quality printed magazines.

Get in touch and let us share our passion with you. Just a cup of coffee is enough time for us to explore with you ways our team can help connect you with potential and current customers.

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