In the steady flow of posts, alerts and e-newsletters that hit my inbox each day, this bit of news caused me to pause mid-mouse over:
In its The State of Content Marketing, 2012 study, Outbrain found that 100 percent of brand marketers and agencies surveyed said they are doing content marketing.
If you’re like me, you’ve been nodding and smiling knowingly in recent years each time you’ve seen a study that showed content being increasingly adopted and valued as a marketing strategy. For example, Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs, for two years running, have conducted a survey which found that nine in 10 marketers say they market with content.
Now comes Outbrain with its 2012 survey, showing unanimous adoption of content.
Wait. That’s like…
I’ll admit, my first reaction at hearing that content marketing has reached 100 percent adoption was doubt. Really? Are we working off the same definition here? Show me the exact wording of the survey question. If I’ve got a corporate website and a sales brochure, can’t I claim to be “doing content”?
But putting aside skepticism for a moment, let’s say it’s true: 100 percent of corporate marketers and their agencies are now “on” to the transformational power of great content. That organizations large and small can win, and win big, when instead of pounding away at their audiences with purely promotional, product-centric messaging, they market for them — by providing relevant, value-adding information, interactions and experiences.
If 100 percent of marketers today not only understand that distinction, but have truly begun to embrace it and act upon it, then we’ve entered a new era in the evolution of content marketing. The era of Competing on Content.
Winning the Test of Visions
In the National Hockey League coaches speak of “battle level.” Which team’s players came to the arena prepared to out-hustle, out-work and, yes, regrettably, even sometimes out-scrap the other team?
Ask most newspaper journalists who’ve worked in, or still work, in a city with two or more competing papers. They’ll tell you that competition to deliver the best content and value to readers challenges them (the journalists) to be better, which in turn serves readers better. Looking to get the scoop. Striving to write the more insightful opinion piece. And then watching subscription and single-copy sales numbers act as the KPI dashboard for who is serving the audience more effectively.
In the era of Competing on Content, we content marketers will need to find our own definition of “battle level.” If we hope to earn the engagement and loyalty of more customers, we’ll need come to work with a mindset that we’re going to out-think, out-imagine, out-create, maybe even out-scoop our competitors. Be more customer-centric. Be more willing to experiment, measure, improve, and repeat.
In short, we’ll need to push ourselves to have — and then continuously sharpen and evolve — a clearly superior strategic vision when it comes to planning, production and distribution of content within our respective product or service categories.
Doug Kessler, founder and creative director of UK marketing firm Velocity, recently described what he sees as 10 implications of “the mainstreaming of content marketing.” His is a thought-provoking post well worth a read.
In this post I won’t offer any tips for how to push your content thinking and doing to new heights. What I simply wanted to do here is provide you a heads up. And, maybe, a little motivational call to mission.
If it’s not happening already, there’s probably going to be soon a content competition within your category.
Which brand will consistently produce the best content?
Which content marketer will consistently excel at the vision test?
This post originally published on HWM’s Content Is Marketing blog, where you can download the “vision test” poster.