If Not Content Marketing…

… then what?

Content marketing works on some levels. It’s the marketing of information. We all pretty much get what content is, after all.

But content marketing somehow sounds unethical. Like you’re sharing information purely to sell something.

Which is something I find bitterly distasteful, but at the same time, justified.

I think your first thought when creating content is to produce something of value, firstly – and secondly, to help create sustainable success for your business.

Convince and Convert‘s clever chap Jay Baer is moving on the same road. He understands the power of creating and curating amazing content for your customers of today and tomorrow. And he knows pretty well the way to set that content free. From Jay’s About page:

Content is the fire. Social media is gasoline.

But what Jay doesn’t have, at least in my mind – and what I don’t have, in the same place – is a successor, the right terminology, for content marketing so it aligns sweetly with its raison d’etre in the hands of an ethical, socially responsible entrepreneur.

@davethackeray Indeed, which is why I’m going with Youtility.

— Jay Baer (@jaybaer) January 22, 2013

Jay’s got his own theory. I don’t share it – I’ve been down the road of coining new phrases hoping for them to latch on to the everyman’s lexicon – but I do covet his efforts to help us inch away from a phrase that I believe has the whiff of snake oil.

Is it a dead end?

As I’m writing the Word And Mouth book exploring the new frontier of communications, I wonder whether there exists a more appetising alternative in words to “content marketing”.

Right now, I hallucinate not.

I’m banking it all on communications. Sweet, simple communications. Because that’s precisely what content marketing is. Slice it, dice it, metamorphose it, the very essence of content marketing is sharing what you know with someone else.

And that to me is plain old communications.

Fly in the ointment

The problem is that to me, communications sounds, well, fuddy. It sounds beyond reach to the small business. It sounds like the stuff O2 does, that Barclaycard peddles, that BP includes in its corporate plan. It’s not the kind of thing that 3 Girls Cupcakes does.

And though I think it’s the big brands that need communications most, in its newest guise at least, conversely it’s the mom n pop shops that have the most – relatively – to offer, and to gain.

It’s easier to be human when you’re not captaining a 15,000-strong workforce, although there are isolated examples where this concept is disproven.

And you don’t have to spend months auditing your content, your employees’ talents, and the shareholders’ anticipated reaction to putting a face to the brand, when you only need answer to yourself.

Does it really matter?

As the late Michael Winner might have said:

Calm down, dear, it’s only a name!

But I think if we’re going to progress the internet and supercede our present offerings with relevant, useful, contextually appropriate information that also happens to help accelerate Google’s mission to index the world’s content more effectively – which includes ridding forever the need for an SEO industry – it’s more than just a name.

Content marketing is alien, unusual, and for many, a waste of time. Having to click again to understand what it is, rather than understand from the outset it’s something that can bolster immeasurably your chances of building a futureproof organisation, is the difference between night and day.

Having been deeply ingrained in the promotion of podcasting across the world for a few years now, I know the harm a wrong name can cause. And continues to.

This industry, this communications industry, deserves better. Youtility or not, we need to change.

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