The myth is that people watch your content, then they are inspired to make a purchase.

Let’s get the truth out in the open – it’s not a miracle growth formula. It’s not a self-fulfilling prophecy either. And it’s certainly not ‘instant.’

Content marketing was better off when it was just called ‘storytelling.’ You tell your story to people who are interested. Eventually, if they have a good experience with you, some people remember you when it comes time to spend money on solving their problem(s).

But now there seems to be a push to shoveling content out at a furious rate and hoping some of it ‘sticks.’  That’s called advertising.

Content marketing, per the Content Marketing Institute “…is the marketing and business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

Notice they didn’t say it will make all customers beat a path to your door, make you the acknowledge expert overnight, or cure male pattern baldness.

It’s creating information that a certain group of people value. Presenting it over and over in a way they continue to find useful, and not spammy, is the hard part. And it takes a real investment in time to see a substantial return on investment. ROI as your marketing pals refer to it.

And how long it takes seems to be the biggest misunderstanding. The other is that it’s ‘one size fits all’ solution. Again, that’s advertising. Not content marketing.

It’s a way of getting your story (often ‘what problem you solve, and why they should choose you’) in front of the people looking to solve their problems (the market). The right message to the right people. That takes research and a bit of trial and error. You know, how the world actually works.

The word ‘content’ means video to some, screeds of keyword laden text to others. It doesn’t matter how you deliver it, only that you deliver quality to the right people. And I don’t just mean ‘artistic quality’ either. Gary V weighs in that ‘The creative is always the variable to the conversion’ but it’s about engagement. The message needs to be memorable, and not like that jingle you hate but can’t forget.

It needs to provoke a response in the audience. Good production craft helps. But at its heart, a great message is the hook.

The problem as Gary Vaynerchuck puts it: “The problem is we have a bunch of marketers who just like to market!” And they like to imply that content marketing is cheap, instant or superior to all other forms of marketing (though they mean advertising).

If you’ve got a lot of time on your hands, and/or not a huge marketing budget, then content marketing through blogging, answering people’s questions on forums (without spammy links) and creating knowledge based web content will grow year on year like an evergreen tree.If you’ve got production skills, so much the better. You can make your own video content, audio content or website. If you don’t, there are so many easy to use tools (iPhone) and platforms (Facebook, YouTube) and free resources (Blogger, Wix) that time and your creativity will be the power that drives your content marketing.

If you’ve got production skills, so much the better. You can make your own video content, audio content or website. If you don’t, there are so many easy to use tools (iPhone) and platforms (Facebook, YouTube) and free resources (Blogger, Wix) that time and your creativity will be the power that drives your content marketing.

If you need help, get it. Don’t waste time if you don’t have it. But remember, content marketing takes research, patience, and creativity always makes for better content. Like planting a tree, do it, then tend it, and wait for it to produce – but it won’t be overnight.