If you look up “content marketing definition” on Google, you’ll get 87+ million results.
I didn’t read them all. But the definitions I did read – wow – they were wrong, overcomplicated, or both. I don’t even like the definition from the Content Marketing Institute.
My content marketing definition
Using content to advance business goals.
How it’s different from other definitions
Other than being the shortest and simplest definition, it completely ignores how you get the content. It doesn’t matter where it comes from. To paraphrase James Carville (Bill Clinton’s election strategist): It’s the marketing, stupid!
Quality of the content matters. Relevancy of the content matters. It doesn’t matter if you create the content, if you curate the content, or if it was delivered to you by moon mice.
If the content is getting business results, no one is going to ask where it came from.
Well, if you stole it, the original owner might care, but that’s a whole different discussion. And there’s almost a case for using unlicensed materials. (Read about Ryan Holiday doing exactly that in Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator.)
Why the difference matters
The human mind is amazing both for what it can do and for the horrible shortcuts it takes. In this case, we act more like “content marketing” is a sentence rather than a noun with a descriptor.
“Content” describes the marketing. It doesn’t do the marketing. I see too many people get stuck at content and never do any marketing. I’ve done it. I worry that I’m doing it every time I sit down to write an article.
This isn’t a new idea.
Social Triggers is a very successful marketing site built by Derek Halpern. His position on internet marketing is “create less and promote more”. Gary Vaynerchuk, another brilliant internet marketer, has said time and time again that it’s all about distribution. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45w5k_MRawU)
Content is the price of admission. It isn’t marketing until you do something with it.