Content Marketing: What It Is, What It Isn’t

July 3, 2012 by  Filed under: Marketing 

When it comes to something called Content Marketing, there’s been a growing amount of “noise” generated over the past few years. Those two words in and of themselves come across as rather vague, probably because their meaning has yet to be completely defined. One thing that is certain, however, is that Content Marketing, while an umbrella term, has become an indispensable subset of traditional marketing practices.

Meanwhile, that “umbrella” I mentioned continues to get larger and larger, currently covering newsletters – both print and online – website, microsites, podcasts, webinars, webcasts, white papers, custom magazines, ebooks, email, direct mail, in-person seminars, workshops and roundtables, even events such as rallies. None of the above are strangers to traditional marketers, but when it comes to Content Marketing there’s one significant difference: How they’re used.

Content Marketing focuses not on making an immediate sale, but on providing the reader, listener, viewer or attendee with little more than information. Carefully crafted information dispensed in a deliberately controlled manner, but only information, rarely anything more.

The theory – and when executed correctly Content Marketing has been proven to work – is that if a company can control or at least influence what its potential customers think about its products or services, it will also have the ability to control or at least influence what, when and how much those potential customers ultimately purchase.

Though there are some who will disagree with what I’m about to say, it’s hard to ignore this truth: Content Marketing is little more than the expanding means by which professional marketers implement our age-old First Rule of Marketing: “Perception IS Reality!” Content Marketing is the means by which today’s marketers create, dispense and control the perceptions of their products and services in the minds of potential customers.

Unlike more traditional marketing methods that actually ask for an order, that tell a potential customer when and how to order, the results of relying on more subtle Content Marketing techniques are not always visible, and not always completely measureable. That can often make it difficult to justify the added expense… because Content Marketing does not come cheap.

Content Marketing demands a specialized writing skill. Books have been written about how to do it and organizations have grown up around teaching it. And, as with virtually every specialty, whether you’re talking doctors, dentists or attorneys, Content Marketing practitioners expect to be well paid for their skills.

Are they worth that premium? It depends on whom you ask. Having seen that actual sales do follow, a growing number of companies swear by the ability of Content Management to manufacture and control the perceptions of their products and services. Others aren’t as convinced because their sales have not grown. As the old saying goes, “Ya pays your money and takes your choice.”

© 2012 Philip A. Grisolia, CBC

Got questions about this article, or suggestions for related articles? Email them to: An accredited Certified Business Communicator (CBC), Phil Grisolia specializes in creating results-oriented marketing programs that generate additional revenue for his clients, money they can take to the bank. An award-winning copywriter and respected marketing professor, Phil is also the author of a new 99c ebook titled Shut Up And Listen! The subtitle describes the book’s contents: 10 Easy Steps Guaranteed to Help You Communicate Better. The book is available online from The Reader Store and other ebook sellers. Phil provides a broad range of services for his clients. Visit his website at

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