Content Marketing: Teach, Don’t Preach

I get asked the question all the time, even by my wife and parents: What is content marketing? If you’re hearing the term for the first time, the best place to start is a basic definition: Content marketing is a marketing strategy centered on creating and distributing valuable, relevant content designed to attract and acquire consumers. But to understand this hot term further, it’s critical to understand how content marketing differs from traditional marketing in the way it actually attracts and acquires those customers.


The only real value old-school advertising and marketing provides is letting you know that a product or service exists and how you can access it. For instance, a newspaper advertisement for a new film provides you with an opening date, tells you where the movie is playing, and may include a catchy tag line. A billboard over the highway lets you know what exit to take for a nearby restaurant and what kind of food you can expect when you arrive.

By contrast, content marketing operates on the premise that today’s customer is looking for companies to provide value in marketing. In other words, it’s not as much about the who, what and when as it is about the why. Put simply, to be successful you have to teach, rather than preach, to prospects and customers.  

Say you own a startup company that’s invented a new dating app. It’s not enough to just get the word out that the app is available. First, you have to make people understand why they should be interested in downloading any dating app at all. So perhaps you write a blog post or write a white paper that includes relevant statistics. For example, 38 percent of single American adults have used online dating sites or mobile dating apps, according to the Pew Research Internet Project. That statistic adds value for the consumer that a piece of traditional marketing could not; it lets these potential users know that there are millions of possible matches that they could be missing out on meeting if they don’t use a dating app.

Once you’ve established that a dating app is worthwhile, the next step is to distinguish yourself from Match, eHarmony, OKCupid and all the other competitors out there. So maybe you put together case studies or testimonials where actual users describe how, after failing to connect with anybody through those other services, your app helped them meet their soul mate. Again, these are essentially in-depth conversations you are having with prospects and customers that traditional marketing simply can’t facilitate.

Now, I understand that even if all of this makes sense it can be a bit overwhelming. That’s why Content Boost exists, and why we are holding our first-ever Content Boost Crash Course on Dec. 4. Just as we encourage our clients to educate their own customers, we are holding this free event to help business professionals get comfortable with the principles behind content marketing and how a content strategy vendor like Content Boost can help your business put together a successful content strategy. For those in the community who are interested, the agenda is as follows:

Now that you’ve had a little taste of content marketing, we hope you’ll join us for a full meal on Dec. 4 (literally and figuratively, as we’ll be serving lunch). Click here to register … we can’t wait to see you there!

Known around the office as the unofficial (or official if you ask him) “Content Boost Mayor,” Eric Lebowitz is one of Content Boost’s Digital Content Editors. Before joining the team, Eric worked in development at the Child Guidance Center of Southern Connecticut in Stamford, Connecticut, and “Golf Digest Magazine.” With experience in account management and content creation, Eric has helped dozens of clients bolster their Web traffic and customer acquisition.  When he’s not cracking jokes in the cubes, you can find him on the golf course working on his handicap. He’s also a recent newlywed. Eric earned his Bachelor of Arts and Sciences in Journalism from Purchase College in Purchase, New York.