Content Marketing as a marketing discipline has had a meteoric rise in adoption, and today I heard an interesting thought, will we one day drop the ‘marketing’ from ‘content marketing platform’?. It’s a genre of software that Linkdex has an interest in.
Recently, I’ve been thinking about what content means to us as marketing professionals, what it means to consumers, and what the word itself means in the hypothesis proposed. So here’s what I think:
- Content is the very fabric of the web.
- Content is what we write, but also what is written and published about us by others.
- Content is what we search for, share, link to, and bookmark.
- Content is what we judge a company by, rewarding them with marketing buzzwords like affinity, positive sentiment and brand equity.
- Content is what can be relevant and useful forever or just seconds.
- Content is what has the power to digitally transform organizations in a good or bad way.
- Content is what tells consumers a story, and what says more about a brand than any advert.
- Content is what consumers interact with when wanting to engage with you, all the way through the consumer journey. That includes whether they are information seeking, list building, evaluating, bargain hunting or having post purchase needs.
- Content is what either delivers enormous ROIs, or, can just be expensive words and pictures that never get read.
So what choice do we have other than doing it well? Really well!
If that’s Content, what is ‘marketing’ and how does that differ from ‘content strategy’?
Let’s go for the Wikipedia definition of marketing first:
“Marketing is a widely used term to describe the communication between a company and the consumer audience that aims to increase the value of the company or its merchandise or, at its simplest, raises the profile of the company and its products in the public mind. The purpose of marketing is to induce behavioral change in the receptive audience.”
No surprises that this definition is very consumer centric. Putting your customer at the center of marketing is what we’re taught from the get go.
It therefore makes sense that Content Marketing relates to two concepts: consumer journeys and moments.
How do you feel about my definition of Content Marketing?
“Content Marketing is the process of planning, creating, publishing, promoting and measuring the content that allows brands to be present in the moments you’d be expected to be present throughout the consumer journey.”
Want to change anything?
It would follow that success for content would be measured in your ability to understand the consumer journey, moments, and your ability to be present at those moments. Whether that’s a consumer looking for an informative resource or wanting the story that breaks today and is yesterday’s news tomorrow.
In organic search (a huge driver of demand for great content) most campaigns would fail this stress test. Most brands don’t map keywords to a consumer journey, understand the topics that need to be covered and the relative demand at each stage. It then becomes impossible to measure success.
Content strategy feels very different. It sits above marketing. It’s business wide and not just about consumers. It involves all stakeholders. These will include staff, suppliers and investors.
Which gives us an additional point:
- Content is also what organisations consume within to communicate to staff, suppliers and investors.
So for businesses there’s content strategy that results in content, some of which will be used by marketing.
Back to the question in hand…
Will we end up dropping the ‘marketing’ out of ‘content marketing platform’?
I think for software platforms that are designed around, plan, publish, promote and measure content models, we could. However, the core use case of these platforms is marketing. As a marketer would I want to buy a ‘content platform’ or a ‘content marketing platform’ if what I wanted was to get more eyeballs to content that helped me sell more product?
The space is currently occupied by vendors like Scribble Live, Percolate, and Newscred but it is hotting up. SEO platforms like Linkdex are playing in the same space but are more channel specific, and there’s going to be a lot of new entrants. The need to do content marketing well is too business critical, and too valuable for it not to get even more competitive.
I’m happy to watch the space and the evolution of categories and labels. What I do think is the “Content is …” statements I made earlier, will still be true either way, and our job as marketers set out in my proposed definition remains unchanged.
We just need to get better at doing it.