Marketing Zen: When Marketing Doesn’t Even Feel Like Marketing

When does marketing not even feel like marketing?  When it’s really well-done content marketing!  Have you ever looked at content marketing strategy from the prospect perspective? I’m talking about companies that do an exemplary job of content marketing to you or me, the professional marketer! And when I think of really effective content marketing, two companies immediately leap to mind:  Business Insider and Hubspot… 

If you’re not familiar with Business Insider, think business website with marketing services and advertising as their revenue stream. In addition to their business news website, Business Insider runs extremely effective email newsletters and campaigns around their internal content and curated content. My Business Insider emails are a welcome reprieve in my daily activities and I’d say I open 90% of their emails. Business Insider emails are usually a mix of news and entertainment for both business and personal growth.  

And what Business Insider does so effectively is every now and then, they slip in a sponsor message and/or offer.  Given how much value they’ve given me, I usually open up those emails too! They’re clearly marked as sponsored emails but they still get extra attention from me. Business Insider is clearly aware of effective content marketing and agrees with my content marketing mantra: educate, entertain and inform. And it doesn’t have to just be your core topic area, you can get a bit off-topic but still keep your audience engaged. The content stream from Business Insider is SO valuable, you’d nearly pay for it which is an impressive marketing accomplishment. In the end, when you’ve got a targeted and engaged audience, you can try all sorts of different content but still get the desired results. 

Another effective example of content marketing is by no surprise, an inbound content marketing company- Hubspot! While their audience is much more targeted to professional marketers, they are a content engine and marketing machine. From webinars to templates, articles, infographics and more, Hubspot is one of my favorite resources for B2B marketing ideas and inspiration. Turn over your email address, download that .zip file, and voila, instant lead.  

And while I’m not currently a customer, I guarantee that the next time I’m in a decision-maker or influencer role for inbound or content marketing in a future organization, Hubspot will be evaluated as a possible option. Again, given how much value they’ve provided me over the years, I’m curious to see how great a company is with their customers given what they’ve done for a non-customer, me! Their content stream establishes authority and expertise, it also shows their high service levels and raises expectations for their audience.  

Think about the purchase cycle for a marketing automation solution. It’s probably at least a 3 month evaluation process that comes maybe every five years or so. Unless you’re a marketing consultant you are not likely evaluating marketing automation solutions regularly. So how and why does Hubspot want to stay in your mental mind map? Lots of high-value content marketing with an eye towards a potential pay-off years from now. Now that is some SERIOUS and committed content marketing, eh? 

If you look at your own life from both a professional and personal perspective, I’m sure you’ll recognize other effective examples of content marketing and the same feelings and perspective that I have about Business Insider and Hubspot may ring true for you. So if you ever doubted the value of content marketing, think about the companies that are currently engaging you and how they do it. I think you’ll find that great content marketing barely feels like marketing. It feels like doing business with an old friend that you trust and believe in…  

Ron Wen

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