As online marketing grows, new ways of advertising emerge. Lately, this “content marketing” has been the talk of the town. But what is it exactly? Why is it making so much noise? How can you leverage it for your business?
1- What is content marketing?
If you want a clear definition, the content marketing institute defines it as a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action. In laymen’s terms, content marketing means generating interest in your brand or product by developing content related to it in order to create a relation, build trust, awareness, and positive sentiment. Of course the desired result is customer action but by avoiding classic marketing approaches, you circumvent your audience’s efforts to ignore advertising. You’re not promoting yourself anymore, you’re bringing useful and meaningful content with real added value to those willing to listen.
2- History of content marketing
If you think content marketing is a new notion, think again. The first documented instance of this technique dates back to 1895, when August Oetker started printing recipes on the back of his baking powder packs. Today, his recipe books are among the most successful worldwide, having sold over 19 million printed copies. His brand, Dr.Oetker, is among the largest food processor in the world.
Another example, maybe the most eloquent of all, is Michelin. The tire manufacturer started its publication in 1900, releasing 35,000 copies full of advice to change or maintain tires, maps, travel tipsas well as hotels and restaurants reviews. It enticed people to go around the country and discover new places, thus using their Michelin tires to their full potential. Today, the guide has 14 editions covering 23 countries and is sold in nearly 90 countries. It is a global reference and a business on its own.
Those were the pioneers of content marketing and they used it to give their brand an edge. Over the years, an increasing number of companies took that path, often successfully, and the trend grew along with the new technologies. Today, the most common channels include blog posts, e-books, emails newsletters, PowerPoint presentations, Podcasts, videos, social media posts, live presentations, webinars, and a lot more. This practice is not really optional anymore, and for a good reason.
3- Why do businesses need it
As we previously mentioned, content marketing has grown constantly from its beginning up until now. However, the early 60s saw the rise of what we now call above the line advertising (TV, radio, print). In the past 50 years, developed countries have been exposed to so such a huge amount of publicity that the population became insensitive to it. Now there are ways to skip TV ads, radio is close to its demise, the number of printed material readers is dropping dramatically, even online banners and pop-ups are being ignored or blocked. This makes content marketing a real necessity for brands. On the eve of the age of information, people want to learn and discover. By helping them in this endeavor, companies get their audience’s trust and interest. But if everyone starts doing the same, how will content marketing stay efficient and attractive?
4- The future of content marketing
With the growing need for it, content marketing will become an industry on its own. Just like social media a few years ago, we are going to see the emergence of content marketing agencies, director of content will be the new job title of next year and bigger budgets will be allocated for this practice. A lot of brands will probably try to automate their content, but it will fail simply because it goes against the very concept of content marketing; however, the need to calculate return on investment will spawn new software-as-a-service companies and new strategies such as location-based content marketing. Finally, and most importantly, as consumers gradually shift from computers to smartphones for navigation, any brand without a strategy for fast-consumption content directed at mobile users will be left behind.
So go ahead, create content, make it interesting and mobile-friendly and don’t forget to follow a strategy!