How to Explain Content Marketing to Anyone [Fresh Examples]

content marketing explained

The concept of content marketing has been around for a decade and the discipline has gained incredible popularity since 2010, according to Google Trends.


But, when CMI started its e-book that answers common content marketing questions, it learned many readers are just getting started.

For those who confront misperceptions or misunderstanding about what content marketing is – the author offers a quick recap for easy reference.

Content marketing as your family would understand

When people question what you do, does your response receive an incredulous look?

“So, what exactly do you do,” they ask after you explain your job.

The author’s husband was in this camp until he told the author about a newsletter that covers trends affecting financial markets.

The author’s husband looks forward to receiving it each day.

The author’s husband explained that the newsletters didn’t have anything to do with the funds the broker was selling, but the information was solid and valuable.

“That’s content marketing,”, the author explained.

It was a eureka moment for the author’s husband’s understanding of content marketing which is educational but is not about the products the company sells.

The vendor offers such good information that you become faithful to the brand.

The author shares another example that is close to the author’s daughter’s heart.

American Girl has so much content and so many content experiences for its audience that it’s truly overwhelming.

For instance, it offers:

  • In-person events and experiences
  • Applications
  • Games
  • Videos
  • Quizzes
  • Movies

While all the ways American Girl connects to its audience are too numerous to cover in this one post, the author is particularly amazed by its print publications.

For instance, The Care and Keeping of You is a book all about growing up for girls.

It ranks second in its category.

It’s from a brand selling dolls but the subject has nothing to do with the dolls.


In short, American Girl’s content marketing lays its focus on how a child can interact with the doll or things that are important to this demographic.

For parents, think about BabyCenter.

When the author was pregnant and then raising his older daughter, the author considered reading BabyCenter magazine.

It’s a perfect example of content marketing.

According to its website, BabyCenter is the number one pregnancy and parenting digital destination, and 8 in 10 new and expectant moms online use BabyCenter each month.

The site is owned by Johnson & Johnson, which sells products for babies.

Content marketing explained to marketers

Hopefully, those examples make it clear that content marketing isn’t about the brand, your products, or your services.

It’s about your audience. What do they care about?

And, more importantly, how can you be the one to give something no one else is, which in turn elevates your brand from a commodity to something people embrace?

Pull-A-Part, a U.S. chain of DIY auto-recycling yards, has produced a one-of-a-kind video series, including this one on how to convert an undrivable vehicle into a pickup worthy of a tailgate.

Content marketing is different than conventional product-marketing efforts like sales collateral and other product-specific info.

Content marketing includes things such as educational articles, e-books, videos, entertainment, and webinars that answer specific questions people have and provide them with something they can’t get elsewhere.

It’s the best way to turn your product, no matter how common, into something that is not like everyone else’s.

By becoming a trustworthy, authoritative resource on topics that matter to potential customers, your business is more likely to get discovered by the right audience and earn their loyalty and trust which enables your brand to strengthen its customer relationships, grow an active and engaged subscriber base, and even increase its profits.

How marketers find success with content marketing

While you may be nodding your head at this point and thinking, “Yeah, this is something I want to do,” you certainly shouldn’t adopt content marketing because it’s the “in” thing to do.

Content marketing takes a lot of work, persistence, and patience.

But, it can be a perfect approach if you truly want to provide a better experience for your customers while making a positive impact on the business in terms of its perception and its bottom line.

Here are the main reasons why content marketers choose to put in the effort for content marketing.

To be found by the right people (potential customers)

People are asking questions and looking for information via search engines like Google, and you want your business to be at the top of the search results in the SERP.

Answering people’s questions via blog posts, e-books, videos, and other content assets is a chief way to make this happen.

Of course, showing up is only the first step, but it’s important if you want to reap the benefits of content marketing.

EXAMPLE: Outdoor retailer REI does a good job of answering questions and assisting its audience through content.

On its YouTube channel, REI offers dozens of videos depending on its audience’s interests and needs, often answering common questions.

Whether it’s a backpacker who wants to know how to use a compass or a cyclist who needs to know how to fix a bicycle chain, REI gives the answers.

To build an interested and engaged audience

Your content is only as expensive as its ability to attract audience members and urge them to engage with your business on an ongoing basis as subscribers, customers, evangelists, or, ideally, all three.

Once you have an addressable audience, your content efforts will help increase sales, collect valuable customer insights, and activate your most ardent followers as brand advocates.

EXAMPLE: Insurance company Liberty Mutual constructed a content platform Master This which is dedicated to helping people solve home and life challenges.

While Liberty Mutual’s final purpose is to drive insurance sales, the content focuses not on insurance products but on information the audience will find educational and helpful.

It also has broadened access to the educational content by partnering with HowStuffWorks and Amazon’s Alexa to provide educational content through the voice-activated device.

Source: Master This

To acquire new customers

Of course, generating revenue is an essential goal for many marketers, and content marketing can be a powerful driver.

When you build an audience that trusts you and wants to hear from you, they are more likely to buy your products.

For instance, CMI subscribers are more likely to take benefit of CMI paid offerings such as attending Content Marketing World than non-subscribers.

EXAMPLE: TD Ameritrade generates its print and digital magazine, thinkMoney, for active customers – those who can make trades as often as 100 of times in a day.

In its initial days, TDA put the program under review to determine whether it was worth continuing to spend money on the magazine.

The leaders endured and, after approximately 2 years, received confirmation of its value:

Subscribers and readers of the magazine traded 5 times more than non-subscribers.

Simply stated, those who subscribed to this magazine became better customers for TD Ameritrade.


Think Money
Source: Think Money

To build increased revenue with existing customers

Another reason why organizations use content marketing is to create more loyal customers, which has the potential to increase sales through cross-selling or up-selling.

In some cases, the brand can monetize content itself.

EXAMPLE: Sainsbury magazine is the leading cooking magazine in the United Kingdom, with 3 million paid subscribers.

But, what’s even more unusual is that, according to a 2015 survey conducted by the company, 8 of 10 readers have bought a product from Sainsbury’s after reading about it in the magazine.

Source: Sainsbury

To reallocate or reduce marketing costs

Organizations also use content marketing because they can see identical or better results when compared to a “conventional” marketing program.

EXAMPLE: Jyske Bank is a huge Danish bank that now also functions as a media company.

The company started using content marketing to get superior results than its high-cost sponsorship marketing.

It created, which produces amazing financial programming, as well as irresistible stories the bank believes,  are relevant to its core audience of younger consumers and small enterprises.

Today, Jyske works with businesses interested in influencing its media expertise.

Instead of laying out cash to support outside opportunities, Jyske receives media partnership proposals from other organizations.


Leave a Reply