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Content Marketing: What It Really Is

Geri Tauber By Geri Tauber

There is truly nothing new under the sun. Content marketing is the latest buzz phrase to be trending in marketing circles, and for some inexplicable reason, it rubs me the wrong way. Why? Because content has always been king in marketing. It didn’t suddenly fall from the sky and knock us on our collective heads.

Yes, many consumers are shunning traditional marketing techniques, particularly Millennials, so we need to find newer and better ways to reach our targets. Yes, we have bright new shiny digital vehicles to exploit for our clients, including Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, to say nothing of email blasts and texts. But there is absolutely nothing new about the premise that every customer interaction should add value or have an idea at its core.

There is absolutely nothing new about the premise that every customer interaction should add value or have an idea at its core.

The ability to tell compelling stories is at the very heart of marketing. They may call it “curating content” today, but fundamentally, it remains storytelling.

Way back in the pre-internet days, creators of the 30-second television spot knew they needed to provide value, either through entertainment, humor, or pathos to capture the hearts (and wallets) of viewers. Before that, at the dawn of the television era, consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies provided their customers—primarily housewives—with valuable “content” in the form of soap operas.

Times change, tactics evolve. Not wanting to be left behind, many clients are jumping on the content marketing bandwagon and spending huge sums for content creation. Unfortunately, not all realize that once you begin this relationship, the need for fresh storytelling is unending. Customers’ appetites for the new “new” often outstrip the ability to “curate” relevant material, resulting in content that is warmed up or recycled and that customers ultimately find repetitive or outright annoying.

According to the Content Marketing Institute (yes, there really is such a thing), content marketing “is delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent.” As a consumer, this strikes me as a little presumptuous. I am probably not alone in feeling that too much arbitrary content designed to make me smarter is already flooding my Facebook and Twitter feeds.

We serve our clients best when we are truthful about the ability of content marketing to move the customer in the direction we desire—toward their product. Less may truly be more in a world where we can’t escape from constant distractions. Instead, let’s help our clients keep the marketing focus where it needs to be—on creating great stories about their brands and building solid relationships with their target customers.