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The "Why" of Content Marketing

Danielle Antosz
The "Why" of Content Marketing

Last month, my car window fell into my car door. Pushing the window control resulted in all sorts of grinding. Awesome. Being the do-it-myself type (and also cheap), I headed to YouTube to figure out what broke and how to fix it. My search quickly let me to a video published by an auto parts website. A few clicks, and I knew how to replace my window regulator and was able to order the part.

That is content marketing done right.

The company provided me with valuable information that I needed. When I went to buy the part, I trusted them to provide me with a good part so I could use their video to fix my car window. (Granted, it was harder than I thought it would be to repair, but I did it.)

Most online marketers have been told content marketing works. It’s the new favorite buzzword. You’ve likely read the studies and even have a content strategy in place. So why does the "why"’ of content marketing matter?

Marketing today requires putting ourselves in our audience’s chair to produce useful content that people want to read and engage with. Understanding how the consumer/brand relationship has changed over the last few years is vital to developing really good content that makes people actually want to interact with your brand, share your content, and hopefully give you their hard-earned money.

Out With the Old

Old marketing tactics included brow beating and subversion. Do you want to be loved and well-liked? Use our perfume. Want to feel fulfilled in your life? Use our soap. Buy, buy, buy. These types of marketing tactics no longer work. But why?

The relationship between consumers and the companies they give their money to has shifted. Understanding that shift is vital to creating content that your audience wants to read, watch, and share. Instead of seeking customers out via traditional marketing channels (radio, newspapers, etc.) and blasting them with ads, brands must provide value and build trust.

Lack of Trust

Consumers no longer trust businesses to have their best interest at heart; they no longer trust businesses to be honest in their advertising.

In the 1940s, for example, people trusted Levi’s brand to produce high-quality, American-made jeans. Their ads reflected that with pictures of cowboys and cute girls. Copy like “Levi’s…the real thing” and “Rugged as the men who wear them” actually worked — they sold tons of jeans.

Today, consumers can see through the “Buy our product and be attractive/fulfilled/happy” facade. (Old Spice actually does a really good job on putting a tongue-in-cheek twist on this old strategy.)

People Expect More

Today’s consumers want more than to feel fulfilled or pretty (although they want that, too). People want organic, they want safe ingredients, they want brands that don’t outsource their production to China. Consumers also want solutions, value, and information. The conversation has changed.

This is where content marketing comes in. Building trust between consumer and brands requires information. Free, valuable information that solves a problem. Not constant pitches.

Building Trust is the Why of Content Marketing

Content marketing requires building a two-way conversation and earning the attention of consumers, versus brow beating them with “Buy Now!”. Providing value builds trust and leads to more conversions, conversations, and connections. No matter how much money you spend on ads, you can’t buy trust. You have to build it. Content marketing is how you build that trust.

Applying Trust Building to Your Content Marketing Strategy

Understanding why content marketing has become popular will help you build a more effective content strategy. Before you hit "publish," ask yourself these questions:

  • Who is our audience?
  • What problem does this help my audience solve?
  • Am I talking at my audience or starting a conversation?
  • Will my audience find this information valuable?

If you can honestly answer yes, then you are doing content marketing right. If not, it's time to change your approach.

Image credit: Morguefile

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Danielle Antosz is the copy editor for Search Engine Journal and a freelance writer and editor. She lives in Florida, where she spends her days writing, editing, planning her next trip, and proselytizing the importance of the Oxford comma.
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Reese Ben-Yaacov
What a great example of how to market your content correctly, with intent. I love that you fixed your car window yourself using YouTube video tutorials. That's pretty amazing.
Nicole Levac
You nailed it. People need to feel that they are living a positive experience from you before they will invest further. Loved this blog.
Psychological triggers still work for a younger audience. I think as the USA ages, more consumers are more savvy and do more research before purchasing so content marketing works better and better going forward, but there is still such a thing as an impulse purchase. A good book on the types of buying is called Buyology.
Danielle Antosz
Will Dangerfield
I agree, it does still work for kids, who tend to be less aware of marketing ploys. I 'll have to check out that book, thanks!
Robbie van't Wout
There are lots of business both on and off line that need to learn the value of content marketing. Thanks Danielle.
Awesome that you fixed your window as well. YouTube is great for that sort of thing.
So I can relate on 2 levels DIY and CM
Danielle Antosz
Robbie van't Wout
Thanks, Robbie! I hate paying someone else to do something I can do myself, although I am having to let go of that a little as life gets busier!
Kathleen Garvin
Your older advertising examples reminded me of my own story.

About 10 years ago I subscribed to Seventeen magazine. The time came for me to renew or discontinue the subscription. As a high school student with a part time job and limited income - every dollar counted! - I thought long and hard about whether or not to renew.

After skipping the initial renewal period, I received a second letter that negged me so hard, it would have put the best pickup artist to shame — essentially, "A bright girl like me wanted to be popular, have a life and go to prom, right? Then I better subscribe, like, ASAP!" Even at 17 years old, I recognized the letter as being ridiculous and didn't resubscribe.

People do, indeed, expect more these days!
Danielle Antosz
Kathleen Garvin
Yeah, that type of marketing is a HUGE turn off. I enjoy the self satisfaction of turning down pushy marketing techniques. "Oh, yeah? I can't be happy without your product? I am going to go be REALLY happy. So happy you won't even know what to do!" Obviously, I am an adult!
Andrea Beltrami
I couldn't have articulated the trust sentiment better, Danielle! Sending a big ass high five your way for this epic read!
Danielle Antosz
Andrea Beltrami
High five received! ;) Really glad you enjoyed it!
Internet Local Listings
It's amazing the number of people/businesses who don't really know their audience. Once you start seeing them as real people, with complex desires/needs, you can really begin connecting with your customers. It sounds so obvious, but it's something so many people seem to miss!
Danielle Antosz
Internet Local Listings
I agree. It is also easy to forget your audience doesn't know what you know - and that goes for technical info and really simple info!

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