What is Content Marketing?

by Feb 2, 2020Content Creation

“Content marketing” is one of those phrases that trips up a lot of people. We think we know what it means, but when it gets to the nitty gritty, we wonder if we do. Let’s break it down and define exactly what content marketing is and what it does for your business.

Every day I work on content. Some is visual, some is written. Some of it is video. I’ve created content for 25 years (yes, I was creating marketing content before the internet!). I teach people how to create—and use—their content. When someone approaches me to talk about content marketing, it usually means one of three things:

  1. The content they create: Visual, video or written that they put on social media or their website.
  2. Getting their website and social media found.
  3. Creating a lead generation program.

A good conversation about content marketing includes all three because they originate in a logical order. Create the content, get it found, generate leads from it. That’s exactly what content marketing is and what it does for your business. But what does that really mean for a business owner?

Watch this Blog Instead of Reading It

Listen to this Blog Instead of Reading It

What is Content?

Some students come to me thinking content is solely their blog posts. Others expand that thinking to social media and their websites. The savvy ones think about lead magnets and nurture campaigns (aka email marketing). For my purposes, content, is every marketing asset you have. It is everything already mentioned, plus your brochures, your elevator speech, your presentations, your sales pitch, your closing conversation, and even your business cards. Content is anything you create and give to the world in context to your business.

You may be asking yourself, isn’t that really just marketing? Exactly!

Content is anything you create and give to the world in context to your business.

What is Marketing?

Yes, content is marketing. Since content is a noun and marketing is a verb, we can think of content as collateral (physical stuff) and marketing as what you do with the collateral.

One of the most difficult conversations I have with my new-to-entrepreneurship clients is when they want to create a website. They imagine putting visuals and words together in a digital form that is both beautiful and functional. Before we can do that, however, we have to take a detour into their customer’s mindset. We can’t create visuals or copy until we know who we’re creating it for and what they need from it. Most people haven’t given much thought about their customers’ mindset, so the process feels disconnected from the job of website development. An obvious truth often missed in the excitement of marketing development: Marketing is all about the customers.

Marketing is the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.

What is Content Marketing?

Let’s bring this full circle and talk about content marketing. When the words “content” and “marketing” are put together, they take on a new meaning. Content marketing is using what you know (your content) to persuade (market to) the right people to take you up on what you offer (sale!). What does that look like in practice? It looks like this:

  •  A submission form on your website that delivers a helpful email to your customer.
  • An article (or blog post) you’ve written and shared on social media that leads people back to your website.
  • An inspirational quote you post on Facebook that encourages your likeminded customers in context to your business.
  • A how-to video given to people in your target market in exchange for their email address.
  • A seminar or webinar you host to educate people in your target market on a topic in context to your business.

The list goes, but you get the idea.

The reality is this: If you own a business in the information age, you are already doing content marketing in some capacity. The question is, do you have a plan? The real power in content marketing lies in the consistent delivery of content reaching your market and creating leads generated with follow-through opportunities. It’s difficult to accomplish all this without a plan. Knowledge, strategic thought, goal setting, and (my suggestion here) a good coach/consultant, come in handy to accomplish this.

The best place to start is seeking the answers to these questions:


  1. How do I create content (stuff like websites, brochures, blogs, videos, etc.) that is a resource for my customers at every step of their journey, through the solutions I provide?
  2. What do my ideal customers need to learn, know, do, or feel in their journey to be a good fit for my business?
  3. Considering the answers to questions one and two, which ones can I choose while feeling good about sharing and joyful about producing?

You can begin to find these answers for yourself by seeking out free/low cost resources such as webinars, seminars, books, podcasts, and more.

Want to learn more about how to do content marketing the right way?
Join me for a webinar or seminar.