The top marketing buzzword for 2015 has got to be “Content,” surpassing “Big Data” from 2014. Everywhere you look online, in magazines or journals, webinars, conferences, you’ll run across tips, tricks, advice, approaches, models, templates, secrets and techniques on how to generate, improve, disseminate and offer content that will effectively convert inquiry to customer. It’s nearly ubiquitous, and clearly some content is better than others, and some is more appropriate than others, and some should never have been produced or disseminated at all.
My feeling is that content marketing is not new, it’s one of those tools in the bag that solid progressive marketers have latched onto because the pathways to delivery have gotten broader and easier. Content is essentially in the same genre as sampling programs, advertorials, forced free trials, and other marketing tools where the creator can put their knowledge of their industry on display, demonstrate quality or level of service, demonstrate their understanding of issues that affect their industry, and provide possible solutions at a lower engagement risk to the recipient than actually purchasing a product or service. It allows the creator or the distributor to shape their brand perception, elevate themselves to expert status, show thought leadership, and hold themselves out there as someone who offers solutions, not just gripes about the challenges facing their industry or line of business. There’s nothing wrong with any of this, it’s a terrific way to accomplish the goal of building credibility and showing forward thought, but it’s not as shiny and new as the most recent generation of marketers would like to believe – the delivery system is new, but the model is not.
Pioneers in content marketing include John Deere corporation, who created a magazine featuring uses for it’s farm equipment in 1898, The Michelin Guide promoting travel and offering insights to travelers in 1900, and Jell-O salesmen offering housewives a recipe book featuring Jell-O as a key ingredient in 1904, and Betty Crocker cookbooks touting uses for their cake mixes in 1912 or so, and so on to the point where recent statistics show that 96% of corporations are using some sort of content marketing in their mix in 2014. The telling statistic in that same report is that, among respondents, only 21% of those using content marketing felt they could accurately track its ROI. I thought marketing was about testing, measuring, data-driven action that creates more efficient and cost-effective drivers of awareness and sales conversion . . .
Hopefully, content won’t be shown to be just the next big, shiny object marketers latch onto, use inappropriately until it loses it’s effectiveness or relevance, or until the next shiny object comes along.
To see how to do Content “right,” pick up your copy of “The Marketing Doctor’s Survival Notes“