We have a healthy debate inside our group about the intersection of content and marketing. Is the discipline of creating useful content or “content marketing” bigger and broader than “marketing?”
Sam Slaughter of Contently (@samslaughter215) makes that case in a recent post where he points out how they use content to fuel their sales efforts:
“Content is the currency companies use to communicate with the world; the marketing department is just the tip of the iceberg. Content, itself, is where the real growth lies.”
Content Drives Marketing, Sales, Customer Experience
Clearly we use content in our marketing efforts to engage prospects and customers. But we also use much of that same content, albeit in other formats, to engage our sales channel and to give those folks in sales positions more valuable stuff they can engage their sales leads with. We have taken the time to build a content team that uses customer data and insights to figure out what is valuable to the folks we are trying to reach. That means that useful, searched-for article on business continuity or the interactive to assess your cyber risk exposures are relevant to existing customers, prospects we would like to have as customers and for the sales channel who is trying to earn the attention of leads as they build a relationship that one day converts.
What about Brand?
Can the content a brand creates to engage people (think customers, prospects, influencers, employees) reflect the brand ‘value proposition?’ Absolutely. In fact it must.
If you work for a brand that is not a big brand advertiser where brand goals are tackled separately from sales-oriented goals, then everything you do must contribute to establishing that brand position. You need to leverage the power of consistency and repetition. Without a seven-figure brand budget to carve out awareness in folks minds, you need to be clever and efficient.
Brands must demonstrate their values versus simply claiming them in advertising or communications. Content can be that demonstration. If you are committed to helping people lead safer lives, for instance, and are delivering highly useful content for them to do so, you are demonstrating a brand quality and putting your words into action.
But Isn’t It All ‘Marketing’
Sam’s point that brand content teams serve more than just a narrow discipline of marketing is fair. We use content to drive everything from marketing to brand to PR to sales to customer experience.
The other way to look at this, however, is that all of these disciplines are actually marketing disciplines. They all roll up to the core intent of marketing.
“Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”