Is Content Marketing Giving You A Furrowed Brow? Take An Aspirin And Call Me In the Morning

What’s on the lips of the Adverati today? Content marketing, of course.

Here’s Gary Vaynerchuk putting his five cents in:

Gary Vee doesn’t go back far enough in his historical assessment of the field, but hey, when did he ever claim to be an historian? We can look to Joe Pulizzi for that. Pulizzi traces modern day content marketing back to “The Furrow,” launched in 1895 by John Deere.

Rebecca Lieb, an analyst for Altimeter Group and author of Content Marketing: Think Like a Publisher, is another person with knowledge we can tap. Promoting her latest report in iMedia Connection and Ad Age, she contends that “blogs have receded in significance as more social channels and video have risen to the fore.”

We found marketers are increasingly looking toward more technology complex channels, such as video and mobile, for content marketing. At the same time, they’re lessening their dependence on text-based channels including blogging, bylined articles, and online PR.

Poor text. No one wants to read you.

Kendall Allen, writing in Marketing Land, notes that “Content Marketing is not something finite or singular anymore. It’s a big job; in fact, it is an enterprise unto itself.” Yes it is an enterprise, which begs the question, how are brands and their agency parters gearing up to execute their multi-channel content plans?

Vaynerchuk mentions Contently, a startup that connects journalists with brands in need of story. That’s an interesting development, and I expect to see much more of this entrepreneurial, cross-discipline approach to the problem. But writers are but one part of the solution. Web devs, game and app makers, video shooters and editors, photographers, community managers, project managers, graphic designers, illustrators, motion designers and on-air talent will also play a key role in executing an ambitious brand’s content strategy.

The good news for agencies is most of them already have a winning model in place to deliver on content marketing’s promise. No, they don’t have all the staff on board, but that’s the case for the majority of the jobs that pass through the agency today. Without the production community, for instance, very few TV spots would see the light of day. With a few key hires and a solid network of freelancers, an agency can be up and running in the content races. I know, because I lived it six years ago, when I helped launch the content department at BFG Communications (ring me up if you’d like to discuss in greater detail).

Matt Creamer of Ad Age wonders, “Whether content marketing can emerge from the current noise as a central part of the marketing mix is a matter for debate.”

Of course, not every brand is up for the responsibilities that come with being a publisher. “Every company is a media company,” not by birth, but by choice. The main thing to realize is advertising and PR are about you, and all your wonderful products and services. Content isn’t. Content connects because it meets prospects and customers at shared points of interest. Patagonia explores environmental issues that its customers care about. Red Bull, on the other hand, meets its customers at the point of thrill, by sponsoring snowboarders and other radical athletes.

Do you see how deep content goes? It is brand building at its best, because it is patient and high-minded. Gary Vee talks about “paying it forward” in the video above. That’s right, you have to actually care about your customers, otherwise just stick to advertising.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.