Is “content marketing” redundant?

Marketing Content

Content marketing is hot. But remember when marketing wasn’t all about the content?  We don’t either.

contentmarketingV3The familiar red and white Betty Crocker Recipe book in so many American kitchens is an iconic reminder that what we call “content marketing” today is marketing, and always has been. It’s about taking a brand’s value to a specific audience segment, with unique focus and appeal because of the particular connection the audience has to the product or brand, and vice versa. To now categorize that function as a sub-specialty of marketing seems counterproductive. It’s easy to get tangled up in the expanding marketing lexicon to the point of confusion about what is important.

A television spot designed to sell a particular can of beans off the grocery store shelf, for example, is retail brand advertising. The content of that commercial is critical, every second – even if it’s imaginary or conceptual. The content (tone, attitude, visual approach) will likely share a thread of consistency (be integrated with) other marketing content such as the point-of-sale display in-store or coupons circulating for cents-off on the 16 oz. bean can. Explaining to campers why beans are a convenient and nourishing food when camping — that’s classic content marketing.  Publishing tips (today, a white paper) on how to prepare beans over a campfire, that’s content marketing. Get it covered on a national talk show and you have national network publicity – which has always been great content marketing, especially if they taste a spoonful and appear pleased. Stage a contest for bean lovers and that’s content marketing with an event/experiential angle — and is nothing new. Posting on social media, “nothing better than #bakedbeans around the #campfire, especially this recipe…!” is content marketing via social media. Delivering valuable content via social media adds value to the medium as much as it does to the authoring source of the information.  No wonder it seems that social media has given birth to content marketing — it plays a major role and is a direct beneficiary. Although what we now call content marketing existed well before social media, the new media are indeed opening significant new routes and methods for appealing to the interests of customers. The opportunity to foster communities of like-minded people who share connection to a given subject, product or pastime offers marketing opportunity, perhaps more than ever before. Yes, it’s a great time for content marketing … and for marketing.

In content marketing (i.e., marketing), substance, quality and timeliness are keys.  As the opportunity expands so do the perceived importance and value of virtually free content marketing, and the bandwagon is rapidly filling up with specialists. But what matters is what has always mattered — that the content (your marketing) offer appreciable value in its essential worth or in the manner in which it is delivered or executed that brings advice, enlightenment, joy, reassurance or some other benefit to the recipient. The semantics and hyper-specialization (fragmentation) of our industry should not cloud the truth. Content is marketing. Marketing is content. “Content marketing” is redundant.  Better content is better marketing.

This link from marketingprofs.com offers more perspective on this topic and great examples:

http://www.marketingprofs.com/pics/2011/5513/a-brief-history-of-content-marketing-slide-show

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