Content marketing is everywhere. The latest content marketing studies from CMI and MarketingProfs cite that 86% of B2B marketers (76% of B2C marketers) use content marketing, 28% of marketing budgets are allocated to it, and 51% plan to increase spending on it.
Yet in the rush to become publishers, I think brands sometimes neglect the importance of being editors. Many content marketing efforts seem to lack a quality filter. The emphasis seems to be much more on the channels than on the actual content published in those channels. I’ve heard marketers refer to content marketing as “feeding the beast.” As a result, we see a lot of undifferentiated, interchangeable content that is more about the brand than the audience.
I was struck by Dave Trott’s Campaign column last week, where he reminded readers of the Dictionary definition of content: “Content (noun): everything that is inside a container; the contents of a box.”
“Content is seen as just stuff. The stuff that goes into the space that’s there to be filled.
“Think of a lorry. A lorry has wheels, an engine and a cab. And a big space on the back to be filled up with something. It doesn’t matter what you fill it with, the lorry is the delivery system. The lorry will do the job of delivering whatever “content” you put in the back. It doesn’t matter whether it’s furniture, vegetables, sacks of cement, or paving slabs. It’s all just content to be delivered.
“And supposing someone invents brand new lorries: brand new delivery systems. The new delivery systems can get your “content” there faster, cheaper, more efficiently. Suddenly, it doesn’t matter what the content is, the new delivery systems are the exciting part.
“And there’s my problem with the word “content.” “It doesn’t matter what the content is.” The content is now just something to fill up the space; the delivery systems are what’s important, not the content.”
The lorry-oriented publishing model that Dave illustrates has created a commoditization of content. In today’s adolescent stage of content marketing, it sometimes feels like one size trying to fit all.
As content marketing grows up, I think brands will need to evolve from publisher to editor.
I’d love to hear your thoughts.