The phrase was, “content is king.” Content was key for search engine optimization and played a huge role to position your company as an industry resource. Then came social and the need for pushing consistent communication and creative tactics emerged through micro-sites and social media popularity exploding, driving brands to compete with the thought-leaders or become obsolete in the marketplace.

Now, with the internet becoming increasingly personalized in our multi-polarized world, content marketing is more important than ever. Budgets are increasing to develop deeper, thought-provoking messaging and strategy (evolving from, “Look at us” and “Wow, our product and services are fantastic,” to a storytelling technique that taps into the customer experience).

So what exactly is content marketing? Entrepreneur Magazine’s concise definition is: “The creation and publication of original content — including blog posts, case studies, white papers, videos and photos — for the purpose of generating leads, enhancing a brand’s visibility, and putting the company’s subject matter expertise on display.”

It is the way brands gain trust, credibility and ultimate loyalty from customers by communicating messages that represent something they care and want to know more about.

One online expert recently described search and social as peanut butter and jelly and content is the bread that holds it all together. So the content, the foundation of the strategy, must be something customers deem it valuable, want to consume and then want to pass on to family, friends and anyone in their social or off-line network.

So how do you go from, “What’s in it for us?” to “What’s in it for our audience?” Simply, tell a story.

How do you do it well? Tell a story that is personable, approachable, tangible and memorable.

For example, every year The Hartford sponsors the Paralympics, and just last year the company decided to tell this story. They launched a media and video campaign through the medium of Facebook highlighting the athletes themselves. The result was a successful and emotional story connecting with people on an individual and very personal level.  Check out the introduction video here: http://goo.gl/e0XPA

Customers are not looking to read your blog or micro-site to see what you sell, they can view that in a catalog or on the products and services tab on your site. They are interested in what you know and what you stand for.

See where your expertise and your customer’s interests overlap to tap into your niche. Tell a unique story and communicate in a way that no other competition can touch.

About amy:
Associate Editor and Blogger, eConnect Email; Business Consultant, HMG Creative; Texas Ex, PR Grad, Not-too-shabby chef, Hearts mini chi weenie, Snoopy D. Follow her on Twitter @AmyKauffman