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360 Content Lessons from a Copywriter

Content Marketing Lessons From a Copywriter

You’re pretty smart. And you’re about to get three times smarter. You see…content marketing can easily generate 300% more leads than traditional marketing. Interested?



Just to be clear, this is not a get-rich-quick scheme by any means. Content marketing is a proven strategy that allows you to tap into thousands of years of human evolution and psychology. If you do it right (and consistently), you’ll build a loyal brand following and get results you never thought possible.

Blah, blah. Just tell me what to do.

I am! Okay, first let’s quickly align on the approach.

Humans love stories. Duh. We use them to pass down knowledge from generation to generation.

Obviously, stories come in many forms. Whether it’s how to start a fire or why you should look both ways before you cross the street, sharing helpful stories is how we evolved as a species. Granted, not every narrative is appealing or relevant to everybody. But when you connect with a story, you never forget it. Just like riding a bike.

How do stories relate to content marketing?

Content marketing is when you (a brand or organization) provide valuable information to your customers in order to build loyalty. You don’t sell something overtly—you connect on a human level. You tell a story. You provide utility. As a result, you build a relationship with your customer and then they are more likely to buy from you.

What’s the technical definition? I’m a nerd.

Me too. Here you go:

“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience—and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action,” according to the Content Marketing Institute.

Does that sound like jargon to you? Yea, same. You can watch this short video after reading the rest of my article. It gives a solid explanation of content marketing, and how it began centuries ago.

But, what’s wrong with the status quo?

Traditional advertising and marketing tactics are not as effective as content marketing because they are disruptions to your customers’ lives. Things like commercials, pop-up banners and radio ads interrupt what people are doing. No, I don’t want to refinance my mortgage…I’M STUCK IN TRAFFIC ON MY WAY HOME FROM WORK!

Clearly, disruptions are a poor strategy if you want to build a relationship with your target audience—especially in the saturated media environment we live in. Content marketers understand this, and instead focus on telling stories that help improve people’s lives.

I get it. Show me some examples, please.

No sweat:

  • Lloyd’s of London sells insurance. Yawnnn. But they are also a content marketing pioneer. Hundreds of years ago they discovered a great way to deliver value and connect with their customers (ship captains). Lloyd’s began publishing weather forecasts, shipping schedules, legal reports and more. As a result, their customers felt more prepared for their voyages and more confident because they—shocker—purchased insurance! Today, Lloyd’s still provides news and insight to its customers. People—this is content marketing.
  • MailChimp freely shares their email style guide. Why would they do that? Well, if you want tips on how to improve your email formatting, what better resource than a company that does it for a living? This philanthropic gesture reveals a bit about the company culture, and it appeals to customers who want a brand they can trust to be open and honest.
  • Dollar Shave Club took a commodity (razor blades) and built a cult following. How did they do it? Sure, low prices help. But they have an even greater story to share. Here’s one example of authenticity from their blog. You can tell there are humans making the product, which makes customers feel more connected to the brand.
  • Pineapple by Airbnb is a magazine for jetsetters and aspiring globetrotters. Why would Airbnb invest in a print publication? Certainly not because they expect to collect major profits for it. No, what’s brilliant about this endeavor is that the company is staying relevant to its customers, and promoting the traveler’s lifestyle without “selling” anything.
  • Bethany Mota is a YouTube sensation embraced by millions of girls and young women. She has millions of subscribers and a wildly popular clothing line with Aeropostale. She even met President Obama. Why has she been so successful? She provides valuable, relevant content to a very specific audience. And they adore her because of it.

So, do I go “all-in” on content marketing?

Yes, and also no.

Traditional marketing tactics are not irrelevant. You still need to drive traffic to your content, and, of course, you need to actually sell your products and services. However, content marketing offers a fantastic opportunity for you to connect with your customers. And it’s a lot easier than you think.

3 keys to getting started

  1. Be authentic. Content marketing is all about delivering honest value to your customers. Find ways to relieve your customers’ pain points and they’ll love you for it. Make their lives easier or more rewarding by posting stories, advice or tips that your audience needs. If you do, you’ll build a loyal following over time. Joe Pulizzi, the king of content marketing, just wrote a great blog post about this too.
  2. Pick a platform and own it. Are you a writer? Create a blog. Prefer audio? Start a podcast. Love video? Start a YouTube channel. The most important thing is to choose a media channel and stay focused. If you try to do everything, you’ll do nothing. Baby steps.
  3. Be consistent. Start by publishing once a week. You’ll be tempted to post more frequently at first because of your enthusiasm. But remember to pace yourself. If you can’t help it, create posts and delay posting them. That way you have backup material for busier weeks.

Some pro advice

Content marketing guru Jay Baer says, the best way to get started is to create content that passes the “Mom Test.” Meaning, your mom is the person who loves you unconditionally, yet isn’t afraid to tell you the truth. So make sure your content is relevant, authentic and valuable to your audience—they will not hesitate to be honest with you, whether it’s positive or negative.

Now what?

You shouldn’t feel like you have to blow up your entire marketing strategy. Start by sharing this article with your team to get the discussion going. How can you begin implementing some of these ideas in your current plans? Where are there opportunities to genuinely connect with your customers?

Start with a pilot program. What have you got to lose by trying?

Now get out there. Create content that showcases your brand’s story, connects with your audience and, most importantly, makes a positive difference in this world.