Friday, November 21, 2014

What is Content Marketing? IDC's Definition of Content Marketing

If you looked away for a split second you may have missed the rise of Content Marketing from "buzz word" to "must have". In fact, at the beginning of 2014 CMOs at the largest technology companies reported that "Building out content marketing as an organizational competency" was the 2nd most important initiative, only behind measuring ROI. Since then, they have responded by putting more budget, staff, and energy into the area, yet there is still confusion around the topic. What exactly is Content Marketing? Is it a type of marketing asset? Is it a process or a technique? Or something else?

IDC's CMO Advisory Service, has seen this issue first hand and to help remedy the situation the group has  published a document, What Is Content Marketing? IDC Defines One of Marketing's Most Critical New Competencies. Included within is a formal definition for Content Marketing.

IDC's Definition of Content Marketing

Content marketing is any marketing technique whereby media and published information (content) are used to influence buyer behavior and stimulate action leading to commercial relationships. Optimally executed content marketing delivers useful, relevant information assets that buyers consider a beneficial service rather than an interruption or a "pitch."

What is Included Within Content Marketing?


A definition is a great start, but the question that follows is, "What is, and is not Content Marketing?" To help marketers become more grounded in this definition of content marketing the CMO Advisory Service has also published a guide for "Types of Marketing Assets." In the graphic below you can see the break out of marketing assets into three categories:
  • Content Marketing Assets 
  • Product Marketing Assets
  • Corporate Marketing Assets
Each is important to the company and within the marketing mix, but only content marketing is new in purpose and new in form. Also, key to remember is Content Marketing Assets are not replacements for Product Marketing Assets or Corporate Marketing Assets.


Why Content Marketing, Why Now?


For decades the marketing team produced communication assets about its products, services, and about the company itself.  Before the digital era, sales people were the primary persuaders and these assets were used as sales tools. Marketing conducted some persuasive outreach, primarily through direct mail. However, this little thing called the internet changed everything - as digital technologies have progressed, buyers have become increasingly self-sufficient, the contribution of the sales person has eroded. This erosion leaves a gigantic gap in a vendor's go-to-market capability. How do companies build these relationships with buyers if they won't talk with sales people? Content Marketing fills this gap.

At IDC we believe that marketers must continue work to keep pace with their buyers. To be successful, not only is agility required, but clear guidelines and processes on how to execute new and exciting practices like Content Marketing.

Sam Melnick is Senior Reasearch Analyst with IDC's CMO Advisory Service, follow him on Twitter: @SamMelnick

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