What on earth is this content marketing nonsense?

A pertinent question, and one often posed to me by elderly relatives at family functions.

Having been immersed in the weird and wonderful world of content marketing for the best part of a decade, I am now acclimatised to the idea that it’s possible to make actual money from such things as posting on social media and writing blogs (“Blogs?” my elderly relatives cry incredulously. “It’s a neologism combining the words web and log”, I tell them in a reassuring manner, which does nothing to abate the general atmosphere of dubiousness surrounding my choice of career).

Yes, my job is a real thing. I produce ‘content’ for various receptacles. Websites, bits of paper, videos, that sort of thing. Not only is it real but it’s also quite important. From the very first painting of a bull on the wall of a cave 40,000 years ago, to every millennial unboxing a haul of Lush goodies on YouTube today, content in all its forms has proven invaluable to humanity by giving us the means to communicate, to share ideas, tell stories, instruct, warn and learn from a past that might otherwise have been lost. I’m thinking more of the prehistoric cave paintings when I say this. Who knows how useful those Lush haul videos will be to historians a few thousand years from now? They’re certainly useful to the soap company Lush, which I suppose is the point.

Whether we like it or not, today we live in a consumer-driven society. The stories and ideologies that underpin our daily lives and conversations are often spawned in advertising and marketing agency boardrooms. Take the recent hooha about Gillette, for example. An advert for a device designed to slice off face hair got everybody from top broadsheet journalists to politicians talking about gender politics.

Quite extraordinary.

Today content produced for brands and businesses is taken seriously. Content no longer reflects the values and needs of society, it creates them.

A content marketer’s job then, to return to the question posed by my elderly relatives and the title of this blog post, is to tell stories that interest and resonate with people enough to reel them in. Perhaps fishing is the wrong analogy to use in this context, considering that it inevitably ends in the death or at least severe maiming of the fish.

Content marketing isn’t a trick, or a lure. It’s not all fluff and feathers. At least, it shouldn’t be. My intention with every piece of content I produce is to make it worth the reader’s time. Content should provide value. It’s then up to the reader to take it further. Do they want to trust the brand from which the content came? Do they want to click that ‘shop now’ button?

Hopefully yes. Even if customers aren’t immediately incited to make a purchase, a good, relevant piece of content with all the right elements will be rewarded by Google and pushed up the search rankings.

Content marketing works on both ends. It provides something useful for the consumer, and it generates an audience for the seller.

It’s storytelling. It’s an exchange of ideas and values. It’s human psychology. It’s selling. We’ve been doing it for millennia, transcribing stuff in our heads to stuff out there in real life. Stuff that can be read, understood and acted upon by our fellow humans.

Wish to find out about the writing services I offer? Head over to my writing services page and your wish will be granted.

E-mail zoe@zoe-writer.com Hours Email: 24/7
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