Is Content Marketing, Alone, Enough?

by John Eberhard

I have been seeing some consultants lately pushing hard the idea of content marketing to drive traffic to their web sites. I want to address this issue.

First of all, what is "content marketing"? The Content Marketing Institute states:

"Consumers have shut off the traditional world of marketing. They own a DVR to skip television advertising, often ignore magazine advertising, and now have become so adept at online “surfing” that they can take in online information without a care for banners or buttons (making them irrelevant).

"Smart marketers understand that traditional marketing is becoming less and less effective by the minute, and that there has to be a better way.

"Enter content marketing.

"But what exactly is content marketing?

"Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.

"Content marketing’s purpose is to attract and retain customers by consistently creating and curating relevant and valuable content with the intention of changing or enhancing consumer behavior. It is an ongoing process that is best integrated into your overall marketing strategy, and it focuses on owning media, not renting it."

According to this concept, traditional advertising doesn’t work very well anymore, so we need to:
a. Write lots of great content ourselves
b. Post that content to our web sites and/or blogs
c. Distribute that content around the web
d. Find other content on the web that is relevant to our topic and send out links to that content to our list, social media contacts, etc. That’s what they mean by "curating" above.

I don’t completely agree with this philosophy, but let’s take up these assumptions above.

First of all I don’t believe that traditional advertising is dead. But it is definitely less effective than it once was. An important issue with advertising, is the raw amount of advertising that the average person is subjected to daily. This has been increasing for decades and has had a cumulative effect on everyone’s willingness to give their attention to the advertising.

Newspaper and magazine ads just don’t pull as well as they once did. And major newspapers across the country are all in financial crisis because advertisers are dropping or cutting back on advertising. There are other reasons for the newspaper crisis but that’s a topic for my political newsletter.

I think the media where you have to advertise has changed, but I don’t buy this idea that people have become completely immune to advertising. I think advertising is just shifting more to online.

As far as writing content and distributing it, I do believe this is important. I have a number of clients where my company writes articles and press releases for them, then we put the articles and releases up on their blogs, and also on various other web sites.

But I do not agree with anyone who says all you need to do is write great content and then put it up on your own web site or blog. It is true that search engines will give a higher ranking to sites that have new content on a regular basis. And it is true that WordPress blogs are set up as a default to send out a notification to blog search engines every time you post new content. And that does generate traffic to your web site.

But I have never felt that just posting new content to your web site regularly is an adequate form of promotion for a web site. Google says this is all you should ever do and they discourage people from doing anything other than that to create links to their web sites. However, my observation is that if all you ever do is write tons of great content and post it to your web site, not much will ever happen.

As far as the whole "curating" thing, meaning finding other great content from around the web, and sharing that (i.e. linking to it, commenting about it) via your blog and your social media accounts, there are a number of consultants who advocate this, including Ed Dale, and the Link Liberation guys. I am currently doing an online course about this, and I will let you know how it turns out.

But by and large, I think content marketing is great and important, especially for establishing yourself as a major expert and trusted source of information, and for building links to your web site. But I would say that it is NOT enough by itself. One should not just do content marketing and nothing else. It’s not going to generate enough web site traffic to be successful. It is limited in terms of traffic generation.

What else should you do?

1. Email marketing
2. Pay per click advertising
3. Search engine optimization
4. Link building
5. Social media marketing
6. Video marketing
7. Google Places program for a local business

Which ones you pick depend on what type of business you are in. If you’re not sure which media to use for your type of business, ask me.

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