Wonder why that brand new, flashy website hasn’t brought in new customers? Frustrated you just spent $20,000 on a beautifully designed website but have yet to see a return on that investment.

The reason is that your web designer/developer neglected to mention that the saying made popular by Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come,” doesn’t apply to web sites, mobile apps, Facebook pages or any other digital property you can think of. No, the primary factor of digital business success is really the content offered on the multitude of platforms.  And again, we find ourselves back to content marketing, branded content, content marketing—call it what you will. For the sake of this article, we’ll use content marketing, but the other terms—branded content and custom publishing—can just as easily be substituted. What is Content marketing? To effectively publish branded content, you first have to know what content marketing is. In simple terms, content marketing is merely authoring and disseminating across the web news, information, graphics, images, videos and other nuggets of knowledge that is of value to your targeted audience—business to business, business to customer, business to government. Wikipedia defines content marketing as, “the development, production and delivery of media (print, digital, audio, video, events) designed to strengthen the relationship between the sponsor of the medium and the medium’s audience… In-flight magazines, sponsored by airlines, were one of the first custom media and remain typical of the genre. While other channels have had significant success, the customer magazine is the most successful example of the genre.” Got it? No? Well, this graphic explains content marketing extremely well and is itself an example of content marketing. I came across the graphic in an article written by Catherine Lockey, on the website Business to Community.  Lockey got the graphic from Marketo—in the interest of full disclosure.

custom_publishing

The content marketing graphic is a great illustration of just how broad the technique can be but also shows the staggering number of outlets and methods to publish custom content. Is it starting to become clearer that a website, app and social media pages fall well short of achieving your online business goals? Yes, you do need a website, app and social media as platforms to publish your custom content, but if you’re not publishing custom content your audience values, you’re wasting your time. Not surprisingly, many business owners don’t have the time to undertake such a consuming yet vital component of 21st century business. In the recent study “B2B Content Marketing: 2012 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends,” 41% of respondents stated their greatest challenge is “producing the kind of content that engages prospects and customers. 20% said producing enough content and 18% said having the budget to produce enough content were also challenges. Content marketing, branded content, digital marketing are/is the core of achieving online business goals.