The Old Way

Let’s think back in human history. Pre-historic humans were nomadic, traveling across vast spaces, chasing migrating animals—having to remain mobile to capture what they needed in the face of changing seasons, climates and terrains.

These hunter gatherers had mixed diets, having to survive on whatever was available around them by using fast, direct, targeted methods to gather plants and hunt game.Rock Balance

And this was the practice… for centuries.

The New Way

But then, well, in 9700 BC or so, the earliest signs of agriculture began, and the practice of gardening and harvesting regular annuals, grains and seeds began to take shape.

This was a game changer, for no longer did society have to remain small, mobile and fast moving. People could gather, settle, congregate and expand their families, communities and villages. Gardeners had another advantage, for they could also adjust their methods to meet changes in season, soil, and crops.

They could trade in the new currency they helped to create: seeds.

But the most profound difference between hunter-gatherers and gardeners is that hunter-gatherers harvest when they can, but gardeners cultivate first—the harvest comes to them.

Once you learn a little about content marketing, these two unique polarities surface. For there have been two schools of thought in marketing.

One beats their buyer with blistering headlines, direct mail, print, outdoor and digital advertising, infomercials, radio promotions, etc. This has been the way to market your business through content, in fact it was the only way to market your business. This hunter-gatherer approach might have been costly to do, but it was the only way to ensure survival. It wasn’t always efficient, but it was always effective.

Cultivating with Content

But we’ve seen a new paradigm crop up. The advent of web and digital media, social media, corporate citizenship and mobile technology (as well as digital improvements to traditional media) have enabled companies to begin cultivating relationships and maintain them on a regular basis.

And this is different from the previous era. Like the agricultural age, we’re wandering through a phase in business communications where cultivation has become an effective approach to bolster brand, proliferate marketing message, generate leads and boost exposure.

I would never suggest that anyone choose one over the other. But I would advise anyone not currently putting muscle in their cultivation efforts to consider the merits of being a new gardener.

Using relevant content in appropriate channels (and being present on those channels) will keep those new relationship seeds watered—readers will revisit your website, social media, events or blog content to learn more. Each exchange between that reader and your content deepens their relationship to your brand, earning you trust and authority.

But great gardening takes time and effort. It is a path, but it isn’t the easiest. Retaining a balance of traditional and new content marketing may help regulate your harvest.

For just as new gardeners are often warned, it is better to start small than to start too big.

We welcome your comments on cultivating through content.

Idris Fashan
A valued strategic partner of X5 Management and X5 Blog contributor.  Idris Fashan is a communications and business development specialist. He worked for government agencies by editing and improving business plans up for review by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA). He was also a guerilla marketer and became a content editor for offbeat internet radio station and magazine Instrumentalyst. He is a self-professed “word nerd” who relishes in the writing process, whether it be a long-form business report or a creative piece of advertising copy written with a wary buyer in mind. He has over 10 years’ experience in marketing and communications and he received a certificate in SEO copywriting from Success Works online program. He holds a communications degree in professional writing from Grant MacEwan University. He also studied marketing at Saint Mary’s University and not-for-profit fundraising at the University of Waterloo. He is a member of the Professional Writing Association of Canada, Business Networking International, the International Association of Business Communicators, and the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce.

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