In January 1996, Bill Gates wrote an essay titled "Content is King", which was published on the Microsoft website. He begins by saying:
"Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting."
More than two decades later, needless to say that Gates was right in his predictions. Internet has brought us several new mainstream communication tools, which revolutionary saved us time in creation and delivery of content. In several years time we have extended the tools openly accessible to everyone to many new forms of information presentation.
As marketing tries to keep pace with technology, the terms we use to describe certain tactics and strategies also change. Content marketing and storytelling are almost synonyms.
Some years ago someone asked me to explain the difference between those terms. I suggested that terminology discussions are time consuming and instead it is better to focus on creating wonderful stuff that doesn't even feel as marketing in the first place. When it comes to the capability of telling compelling stories that resonate across different niche, nothing can beat content marketing.
"Focus on creating wonderful stuff that doesn't even feel as marketing in the first place."
Content marketing is the new advertising
In August 2017, WPP, the world's largest advertising holding company (including multinationals such as Ogilvy & Young & Rubicam) announced a sharp slowdown in revenue, forecasting a mere zero to one percent growth this year. Its stock plummeted. Other advertising companies' stocks followed. They all blamed some of the world's biggest consumer goods firms, like P&G and Unilever, drastically reducing their ad spending.
It’s clear that the marketing and advertising world is going through massive changes. But they are not only due to some CPG companies that are belt-tightening. These are systematic shifts away from traditional advertising.
Communicators are realising that digital ad spends simply aren’t working. The lack of transparency on ad platforms means that brands can't be sure whether their ads actually performed well.
In addition, most consumers are rejecting traditional advertising. They have enough of intrusive advertising that take over their screens and follow them around the Internet.
Nowadays, consumers, spend their time and attention with content that is meaningful to them. We, the people, seek out and share content that inspires, entertains, solves our problems, and teaches us something new. We all know that content must provide users with value in order to drive business results.
Why content is king
That was a popular slogan in the early days of search engine optimisation (SEO). It became more popular when content marketing started to take off. The meaning of that phrase is quite simple. For whatever other strategies you employ, high-quality and compelling content is the single most essential component of your marketing strategy. And it is still is !
Content marketing has evolved over time because it is effective. During the last few years, the words content marketing have become buzzwords in the corporate business and the media. Content marketing is the art of producing and disseminating relevant and useful content to attract, entertain and engage a clearly defined target audience in order to promote products or services.
People want to be entertained and informed. Publishing original material will continue to be an effective strategy for any brand long into the future. Organisations that realise the influence clients have in shaping brands will succeed. And those who actively engage in conversations with them will consolidate their reputation and earn trust.
"Content marketing is the art of producing and disseminating relevant and useful content to attract, entertain and engage a clearly defined target audience in order to promote products or services."
However, content marketing is about more than just writing articles for the corporate web site.
It is about being relevant, informative and useful, and providing added value to your stakeholders.
Here is why content will only continue to become more important in 2018:
1. Content creates brand engagement
Useful, high-quality, interesting and to-the-point content encourages users to interact with your brand. Stakeholders and clients take time in processing information when they visit your website or social platforms. Videos and blog-posts bring customers closer to your brand in a more subtle way, instead of bombarding them with advertisements.
2. Content establishes thought leadership
Thought leaders are the informed opinion leaders and the go-to people in their field of expertise. The more your target audience is exposed to your brand, the more the people in that market will recognise you as a thought leader, feel a connection, and buy from you. Content marketing is paramount in establishing thought leadership, especially once your blog-posts, videos, or other content begin to dominate search results. At a certain moment, you will be also asked to speak at conferences and other networking events due to the expertise and experience you have.
3. Content opens a dialogue
Quality content gives the opportunity to start conversations with your stakeholders. They may comment on your blog posts or share your social media posts. In addition, they may ask you questions and make comments. You can also gain valuable insights from these comments. When stakeholders begin to see that you take their feedback seriously, they will be more likely to buy your products or services.