You have a purpose. You have a need your marketing must fill. You have expertise you want to share. You have ideas you want to reveal. Your content can help you share your expertise and your content can help you reveal your ideas, but it is only content marketing if it also fills your marketing needs in a way that helps you to achieve your purpose.
I’m all for giving without expecting to receive. I believe that giving back to the community that has made our work possible is not only noble, but necessary. After all, without the people who helped you to become the person you are today, you couldn’t do what you do now. We all have a responsibility to share our legacy with the generations nipping at our heels and in this accelerated world, that nipping happens very quickly indeed. Besides, it’s also a way to pay it forward for the benefits we continue to receive from those who continue to empower us today to become the people we hope to be tomorrow.
In this vein, content can be a gift. People blog all the time for all sorts of reasons and not all of it is content marketing. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that! In fact, all those content marketers out there could learn a thing or two from these people, because it is these people who made blogging and social media what it is today. So, I certainly recommend making at least some of your content a gift that serves no other purpose than to give value onto others.
When the purpose of your content is to market your business, however, your content—the majority of your posts—is not a gift. It is a mechanism for fulfilling a marketing need. The specific needs you will have will depend on the purpose, nature, and state of your business. Sometimes you are urgently in need of customers or clients, so your content platforms serve as promotional mechanisms. Other times you need to build up your credibility, so your content platforms serve as hosts for your expertise. You use content to raise awareness about the fact that certain needs can be filled and those needs would be fulfilled quite nicely by your offerings. You use content to build relationships with clients, customers, colleagues, and peers. You use content for a myriad of other reasons, too. At least, you can.
Content marketing can be as complex or as simple as you make it. Content platforms like blogs and social media sites are too versatile to say they serve only one purpose. Of course, you can decide they serve only one purpose for you, but that’s not the same thing at all. You can make your content marketing plans as complex as you’d like, serving as many purposes as you need them to do.
Then, you fit your content to the purposes you have established. But, without a purpose, your content isn’t marketing. Without a purpose, you’re just another blogger spending your time socializing online. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but it’s not marketing.