Content Marketing: Past, present and future

Want an illustration of how far content marketing has come as a practice? I was at a wedding a few weeks back, speaking with someone who does video for brands. Just to try it out, I described myself as a “long form written content developer” and he knew what I meant.

I’m not a writer anymore, I’m a long form written content developer. Try to tweet that!

How far we’ve come
When I started this blog more than five years ago, I had to define the term “content marketing” to people when I met them. Now it’s one of the hottest topics in marketing. See the Google Trends graph for content marketing in the last five years.

Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 4.39.03 PM

Content Marketing World is in its fourth year as a content marketing conference. It had more than 2,500 attendees this year.

Content is part of many job titles: Director of Content Strategy, Chief Content Officer, Content Marketing Manager, etc. Content marketing is mainstream.

Where we’re going
On one end of the spectrum, some marketers feel left behind by all the hype. At a marketing meetup in San Francisco a while back, someone asked me in hushed tones, “What does content marketing really mean?”

I gave her a quick answer – it’s about understanding what your prospects and customers need and then making sure you can help them at all points of their journey with content. If you’re in this camp and want a fuller explanation, I’d recommend that you read Joe Pulizzi’s book Epic Content Marketing. I’ll review that in a blog soon.

On the other end of the spectrum are the expert practitioners who use content not just to drive sales, but also to add value to their brands and solutions. These people understand that content is itself an asset of value.

For inspiring examples, see this blog that Michael Brenner posted recently about branded content hubs that are becoming valued destinations: 20 Amazing Examples of Branded Content Marketing Hubs.

In these examples, content marketing does more than simply driving leads through a sales cycle – it is adding value to the overall brand and strengthening relationships with existing customers. And that, in my humble opinion, is where the future of content marketing leads.

2 Comments on “Content Marketing: Past, present and future

  1. This reminds me of a lovely zen buddhist quote, which I’ll co-opt here to ask, What makes it NOT content marketing?

    Because of course it is the word “content” itself that is the point of fascination, as after all, it’s ALL content in a way …

    What becomes most interesting to me then, is when does content become Content with a capital C, and to what extent then does intentionality on the part of the provider come into play?

    Put another way, thanks for getting my brain going today! Cheers for an excellent read, will be a pleasure to share …


    Christopher Watkins
    Social Media Manager
    fisher VISTA / HRmarketer

    • Thanks for the philosophical twist! Indeed, all marketing is content – and what’s old is new again. I suspect the difference is trying to provide content (with a capital c) that has some inherent value beyond simply screaming “Buy now!”

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