The word “content” gets thrown around a lot these days – some marketers now refer to their TV commercials as ”content” – something that is technically true but strikes us as hopping on a bandwagon you don’t quite understand.

In our view, calling the same old promotional messages “content marketing” is really missing the point.

So, just how do we define content marketing?

Joe Pulizzi at the Content Marketing Institute recently offered up some definitions of Content Marketing. And Heidi Cohen has an even more exhaustive list.

And here’s what we say it is:

Content Marketing is a journalistic endeavor that enhances the conversation within your industry, and thereby builds trust with your key audiences.

It is not talking about your products, services and business announcements.

It is about thought leadership. It is about identifying the trends in your industry, and creating a conversation around those trends. It is about creating “news you can use” for your customers and clients. It’s about helping those clients and prospects know and understand the latest information in their industry. It’s about becoming a trusted source of information.

We believe that building trust is critical to marketing in this day and age. In the super-connected world in which we live, customers have gazillions of options. They invariably are going to buy from someone they trust. And that’s why it’s critical to bring a journalistic ethic to a content marketing campaign. Journalists play it straight. They don’t abuse that trust. And if they do abuse that trust, it’s virtually impossible to win back peoples’ confidence.

There are plenty of reasons why content marketing is a smart strategy, but at the core of all of them is building trust.