Content Marketing: A Look Behind the Curtain

Content marketing. As a phrase, it’s used so much it’s at risk of becoming another corporate buzzword. But unlike other popular pieces of business jargon,…

Content marketing. As a phrase, it’s used so much it’s at risk of becoming another corporate buzzword. But unlike other popular pieces of business jargon, content marketing is a real thing. And it works, too.


Content marketing is not a process for distributing brochures, advertisements, and direct-mail pieces. In other words, it’s not a means of marketing sales content. It’s a strategy for engaging customers with lifestyle-oriented words and images (a/k/a content).


Content marketing violates everything we’re taught about “traditional” marketing. It doesn’t always correlate to a business’s actual product or service. Nor does it explicitly aim to drive sales. Instead, it uses the ideas underlying a business’s purpose to engage with customers on a personal level.


Marriott International produces gobs of content aimed at the lifestyles of travelers. The company strives to inform and entertain. And the content it creates is lightly branded and almost completely void of sales propositions.

“Rather than interrupting what potential customers are interested in, we became their interest,” said Arne Sorenson, President and CEO, Marriott International. “When done well, viewers appreciate the company that has created it [the content] for them. They have an emotional reaction, one that inspires them to share it.”


With persistence, patience, and some realistic goals—ABSOLUTELY! But keep in mind; Marriott is an example, not a model. And being creative and innovative about content delivery is the goal, not the reason. Marriott achieves its goals through big-budget magazines and short films. But you might achieve yours with simple white papers and blog articles. It just all depends on your target audience and what they want.


  • A realistic set of goals (such as web page visits, social media engagement, email opt-ins, etc.).
  • A willingness to ditch the sales pitch.
  • An understanding of the interests and goals of the target audience.
  • An emphasis on building familiarity and trust.
  • The time and money to consistently create and deliver content according to audience preferences.
  • The mindfulness to revisit and refine content-marketing strategy on a regular basis.



I’m content marketing right now—to you. I’m sorry you had to find out this way.
If it’s any consolation, these are my motivations:

  1. I hope you find me credible and sincere.
  2. I hope this information makes your life somehow easier and/or better.
  3. I hope you share this article with all your friends and colleagues.
  4. I hope you scroll to the bottom of this article and subscribe to our blog.
  5. I hope you explore the rest of our website.
  6. I hope you consider McCullough Creative when you need help with your marketing efforts.


There. Beans spilled. Curtain pulled back. Cat out of bag. You just got content-marketed to. 

The essence of content marketing is the confidence to create a dialogue around the things you and your brand know and care about. Not so scary, is it? And now that you know what content marketing looks like, use it to your advantage. Think about your brand purpose, how it relates to people’s lives, and how to begin and sustain a conversation about it.

Stay tuned to this blog for my next installment on the topic of content marketing. I’ll explain how to begin creating your content-marketing strategy. I’ll also help you understand what things you’ll want to consider as you do.


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