Spend a hot minute online and it doesn’t take long to figure out that much of it — if not most — is marketing. With the possible exception of disseminating explicit materials for free, it is arguable that the primary purpose of the world wide web is to distribute marketing materials.
But how can that be, if people hate ads so much? The answer is a little thing we call content. But what is content? We know it’s supposed to be king, but what does that mean? Content isn’t just branding, or ads disguised as entertainment. Content is the means by which we offer value to our audiences — value that goes above and beyond simply directing them toward a purchase.
Before going on, let’s take a moment to nail down what branding/marketing content is supposed to do.
The Non-Negotiable Functions of Online Content
1. Offer Value
That means the content itself is inherently rewarding to the reader. Whether it’s entertainment or information, you must be giving them something.
2. Offer Unique Value
So you’re ready to produce content that delivers value to your audience. Terrific. Now, how many other entities online are offering the same thing in the same way? You’ve got to do it in a unique way that is attractive to your target demographic.
3. Keep Them in the Store
Supermarkets famously pipe music into the store that is soothing and slow paced because they want shoppers to linger. The idea of online content is similar, but you’re not sedating them with the dulcet sounds of Kenny G. You’re persistently delivering messaging that they want in a way that’ll keep them coming back for more.
4. Promote Their Success
Often overlooked, the need to promote the success and the flourishing of your audience is key. If your message is that putting magnesium into the microwave is healthy and fun — and you (somehow) attract clicks and make a ton of ad revenue — well, that’s one thing. But the total lack of success and flourishing that this content will produce will come back and bite you on the pork chops.
In other words, your content has to improve your readers’ lives. That’s particularly relevant in B2B branding campaigns. That is, delivering the particular type of informative value-add that your B2B partners are looking for is non-negotiable. Your material needs to lead them to succeed in their endeavors as a business of their own.
Delivering the Goods
Whether your audience is your B2B partners, or anyone looking for content that is valuable to commercial endeavors, you can no longer get by with amusing material that meets all the prerequisites of a functional branding campaign. You need to give them material that helps them succeed (read: make money).
You may be thinking, “Heavens to Murgatroyd, Jackson. I’m in over my head.” And, you might be right. But before you give up on your content marketing dreams, let’s just break things down and figure out how to make things work for your business.
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DL M has 21 years of professional writing for print and online media and has 10+ years experience as a freelance fiction editor. He’s a content creator for major corporations covering all topics for a wide range of industries, specializing in white papers, research, news content. His specialty subjects include: current events, marketing, analytics, personal development, leveraging social media, SEO, business development, cloud computing, language, and politics.