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You might want to take an extra sip of coffee before you read the next paragraph …

We’re going to start with a brief geometry lesson today, but I promise it will be gentle. 🙂

Squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares. Similarly, content marketing is content, but not all content is content marketing.

In the past, I’ve referred to informative content as bland and boring, but those are just labels.

The crux of the matter is that creating strictly informative content will make you think content marketing doesn’t work.

I’m not splitting hairs

Both content and content marketing can aim to serve your target audience, but if you only create content, it’s not going to make an impact on your business.

Content may give someone the information they need, but it doesn’t form a bond between a visitor and your website.

It may attract traffic, but that traffic doesn’t build a community.

Content marketing gives someone what they need and a reason to stick around.

Maybe they add a comment. Maybe they subscribe to your site because they like your outlook. Maybe they share your content to show that your worldview aligns with theirs.

Content marketing has long-term effects. It attracts traffic — then leads, then prospects, then customers — as you grow an audience who supports your offer.

"Become a lifelong student, and teach others what you learn." – Kelton Reid

Content marketing is not only more effective, it’s actually easier to produce

If content marketing helps you more than content, then it must be more difficult to produce, right?

I’m going to say No.

Here’s why.

Many people who already have everything they need to produce potent content marketing for their businesses limit themselves because they are preoccupied with first becoming an “expert.”

  • They obsess over covering a topic from every angle, which leads to a sporadic publishing schedule.
  • They try to please everyone with their tone to avoid criticism.
  • They only write belabored, convoluted articles because they’re afraid shorter blog posts with focused points will look incomplete and discredit their authority.

Those three habits both make the creation process more difficult and lead to strictly informative content.

However, if the goal is content marketing, the content creator’s intention shifts to serving their target audience.

Content marketing is easier because you don’t have to know everything about your topic to get started.

The audience you’d like to nurture on a regular basis wants to hear your voice, not the same information they can find in mere content.

Let’s look at an example from songwriting. In “Everything Is Broken,” Bob Dylan wrote:

“Seem like every time you stop and turn around
Something else just hit the ground.
Broken cutters, broken saws,
Broken buckles, broken laws,
Broken bodies, broken bones,
Broken voices on broken phones,
Take a deep breath, feel like you’re chokin’,
Everything is broken.”

He didn’t then go on to say, “Well, I mean not everything is broken. It’s important I point that out. There are some good things happening for me. You probably have some good things happening too. We’re all probably okay.”

That wouldn’t express a strong position. It wouldn’t empathize and connect with the person who is feeling like everything is broken. As a result, that wishy-washy song would be forgettable.

"Shift from publishing content to building anticipation for your next installment." – Stefanie Flaxman

5 elements that transform content into content marketing

Now, content is actually a great starting place.

You need to have something useful to share with your audience, so it’s smart to care about creating a clear and complete presentation.

And once you weave in elements that make your content memorable, you activate its marketing power.

Whether you’re just getting started or thinking about revamping your editorial strategy, see if these five qualities are part of your content marketing mix:

  1. Perspective. Why do you care about your topic?
  2. Values. Are your beliefs apparent?
  3. Significance. What’s at stake?
  4. Community. How can someone become part of what you do?
  5. Offer. What’s the idea, product, or service you sell?

The art of content marketing transforms easy-to-come-by information into a special platform that enriches people’s lives over time.

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