In 1933, Procter & Gamble started to broadcast a radio serial drama sponsored by their Oxydol soap powder. The owners wanted to build brand loyalty by aiming to adult women. They could intermix their marketing messages into the serial drama. The term soap opera was born in this year, and they marked a precedent for native ads. Engagement with the audience was a key element with the creation of this content.

I won't pull any punches: I started, and it took a while to stop. That is to say you're about to dive into a pretty in-depth post (that's a nice way of saying "long") about content marketing, one which you may want to bookmark to read later. But I think it covers most of the aspects of content marketing that modern inbound marketers need to consider, beyond the basics of simply writing content optimized for the web.


Problem: I need to create brand preference. Engaging content marketing creates preference through thought leadership by making you a trusted source of information and education. You can also create preference through relationships, which are strengthened whenever your content entertains or helps your buyers. People are more likely to buy from companies with whom they have relationships. 
To explain how content marketing works, we first have to agree on a definition. Unfortunately, I might've sent myself on a fool's errand -- I went through dozens of different iterations of a content marketing definition (including the somewhat flippant "content marketing is using content for marketing") and found none of them totally satisfactory. But I hate to let perfection get in the way of progress, so let's just get something down on paper so we have a basis for discussion:
There are many firms that offer content marketing services, often paired with SEO or PR. If you’re simply too busy to do it yourself and aren’t ready to manage it in-house, then hiring a firm may be your best option. But if you want to jump in and do your own content marketing the easiest way is to start blogging. It will likely be hard at first, but the more you do it, the better you’ll get at it. Following tips from websites like Copyblogger you’ll quickly learn how to craft content for your website or blog that will engage readers and turn them into customers or clients. But while technically good writing and the right headlines can help, it’s not the key to creating great content that is the best form of content marketing.

Not all SEO suites solve the problem. Some bombard you with too much data, without providing the tools you need to sort through it and tweak your content strategy. Other SEO tools break everything down into their own proprietary system, without giving you the enough data to draw your own conclusions. And when they get it wrong, you’ll have no way of knowing until your traffic starts to crash.
Keep your content up to date. Out-of-date content reflects poorly on the user's overall opinion of the website and the College. It also degrades the trust of the user to later find information on the website. If you put up info that needs to be updated later, mark it on your calendar with a reminder so you don't forget. Give yourself the time necessary for the page to get through workflow (24 hours).
ContentWriters assigns flat-rate writing assignments based on your areas of expertise. You could be asked to come up with proposed blog ideas or be offered regular writing assignments for a specific client or campaign. An editor reviews the work and an administrator is typically responsible for taking care of the customer service aspects of the project. Depending on your niche, this could translate into a moderate amount of assignments paid out twice a month through PayPal.
Email lists are marketer's most treasured assets -- and they're a smart way to drive traffic, conversions, and re-conversions on your content. Invest in growing your blog email subscription list for an incredibly valuable distribution arm alongside your sales lists. You can do this, for example, via lead flows that politely ask readers if they'd like to subscribe as they're reading through certain articles on your website.

Keep your content up to date. Out-of-date content reflects poorly on the user's overall opinion of the website and the College. It also degrades the trust of the user to later find information on the website. If you put up info that needs to be updated later, mark it on your calendar with a reminder so you don't forget. Give yourself the time necessary for the page to get through workflow (24 hours).
Patagonia grew out of a small company that made tools for climbers. Alpinism remains at the heart of a worldwide business that still makes clothes for climbing—as well as for skiing, snowboarding, surfing, fly fishing, mountain biking and trail running. These are silent sports. None require an engine; rarely do they deliver the cheers of a crowd. In each, reward comes in the form of hard-won grace and moments of connection with nature.

I personally prefer things simple, so I think of content marketing technology solutions in terms of "need it" or "nice to have." Nice-to-have technologies are things like competitive intelligence tools, market research tools, or software that clues you in to real-time trends. Experiment with these on a rolling basis -- most will offer a free trial so you can validate it. But first, make sure you're set up with the core technologies every content marketing team needs.
When the marketing team starts to grow, who leads content marketing gets more interesting. With a team of three marketers, you can approach content marketing a couple ways. Either one person can own content marketing activities, while the other two own activities that align more with the middle- and bottom-of the funnel. Or, two people can own content marketing activities, while the third owns the rest.
It can help, but other degrees also have content writing value. For instance, the ability to synthesize and relate complex information is key to content writing, but can also be acquired from studies in education or philosophy. Companies that offer content writing positions tend to find it easier to train someone in a complex topic than to train someone to write, however. For example, as a healthcare professional with mediocre writing skills, you're less likely to be hired as a healthcare content writer than a strong writer with no healthcare background (but who can be trained in healthcare topics).

Add value. That’s the secret. It’s not really a secret at all. We've already talked about it throughout this piece. Although when you look at some of the marketing companies engage in you wonder if they’re purposely avoiding the obvious. We skip advertising when it provides little to no value. If you want to learn about advertising that doesn’t get skipped, find a skateboarder and ask him if you can watch him look through a skateboard magazine. You’ll see that he spends as much time looking at the ads as he does looking at the articles and photos. Or check out The Berrics website. Much of the content is advertisements, but skaters don’t skip these videos, they watch them just like they watch the other videos, because they’re getting the value they want--good skating. As a skater I’d like to say skateboard companies pioneered content marketing decades ago, but I know they were only doing what came naturally, and selling more product was secondary to the fun of creating videos and magazines. If you want to hire someone onto your marketing team who understands content marketing intuitively, hiring a skateboarder might not be a bad step.
As a freelance web content writer, you’ll work with a wide variety of clients in different fields and niches.  Freelance web writing can be done part-time (which will give you plenty of extra spending money) or full-time (which will give you the daily freedom many “9-to-5” workers crave).  At the same time, freelance income can be inconsistent and requires more hustling to find and keep clients.
Web content writers must play well with others.  I’ve hired writers of my own in the past, and you’d be amazed at how many people flake out on assignments, turn in sub-par work or simply fall of the face of the planet.  If you want a shot at the jobs that pay well, you need to present yourself as a responsible, easy-to-work-with writer who meets his obligations without requiring a lot of paper-chasing on the part of the client.

Aaaaah! What a joy to read these words. Thanks Henneke. I never cease to be delighted at the power of words and what they can conjure up. My particular favourite wordsmiths are the guys at Ground Effect in New Zealand. I get the catalogue just for the copy – although they do have wicked cycling gear at the right price. ….. Here’s how they describe one of their jackets and a summer weight top. 
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