Content marketing – Is ‘Content’ truly the Marketing Emperor’s new clothes?

Content Marketing

A guest blog from Nigel Cliffe, The Marketing Lab Ltd

Without doubt, content marketing is all the rage right now.

Much of this noise is being created by companies, brands, ad execs and marketers … all of whom appear to treat this discipline as a shiny new toy.

And the good news is that marketers are attracting an increased share of the advertising and marketing budgets to create the content that their customers (and potential customers) will want to read and share.

Yet, there’s one question that I keep hearing from those who are innately suspicious of fads – and, yes that might include me! – and that question:

“Is content marketing truly new, or is it just what switched-on marketers have always been doing?”

As a starter … allow me to put this debate into context with a separate question.

What is content marketing?

There is a simple premise here and that is:

content is writing: marketing is being liked

In effect that makes it easier to understand, but how is that achieved?

First and foremost, it helps if you are passionate about your subject and that you can then demonstrate knowledge to your audience. In fact it is essential – for authenticity.

The internet and technology are great enablers to get your content published and to reach your target audience.

Quality writing gets read more: And getting read more equals being liked more

Poor quality content that doesn’t get read is simply not valuable. Period.

This situation is not Field of Dreams … publish it and they might not come!

What has changed in marketing?

So, what’s really changed?

What’s changed is the medium.

The internet has made it simple for almost anybody to publish and distribute all types of content to a worldwide audience.

Taking that thought a stage further: content marketing was genuinely revived around the year 2000 with the introduction and increasing popularity of blogs on the web.

In truth, in those first few years many of these company blogs were distinctly sub-standard and consisted of self-promotional blurb, press releases and award announcements. In effect, me, me, me.

Fortunately those days are gone and many companies – both large and small – are posting high quality and interesting articles on their websites. Or at least they should be.

And their reward is that they encourage a loyal band of followers who engage and subsequently purchase their products and services, even to the point of being brand ambassadors … now that’s the marketer’s holy grail.

And so to…

The verdict on content marketing

Good marketers have for years embraced content.

Content tells a story in your customers’ language about the problems you solve and have solved.

At its best it can establish you as a thought leader in your space.

Content marketing in and of itself is nothing new … but the environment towards which it is aimed has changed dramatically in recent years.

But beware of producing content just for the hell of it.

Targeted marketing

Information is so plentiful that readers will only read what is segmented and personalised to their interests … to me, this sound like a familiar marketing technique called ‘targeting’. Haven’t we being doing that for years?

However, the power has shifted to the consumer …

Your reader has very little patience to hear of your product or service … there are many more interesting things to read out there.

This means that the preparatory work of the marketer has become much more challenging.

– Reader engagement is indeed the marketers dream ticket

– Segmenting and targeting are prerequisites – and if you can produce true added value the reader will engage with you and share your content. In that way the reader becomes the media outlet and your platform of distribution, many times over.

That is the secret sauce of the emperor’s new clothes!

Nigel Cliffe, The Marketing Lab Ltd


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