RANT: Let’s Get Rid of ‘Content Marketing’

RANT: Let’s Get Rid of ‘Content Marketing’ image contentchalkboard 300x300Image contentchalkboard 300x300 Source Dallas Web Design Company | PR | SEO and Mor …What am I doing? I’ve been asked the question dozens of times since I made the jump to our Dallas marketing firm from a 20-some-year career reporting and editing for major news outlets. (Yes, I was the MSM, and I swear there is no such thing as a media conspiracy.) Now I work in content marketing, which is not a new concept; and nine out of 10 companies are doing it in some form. But after winding through explanations of content marketing with neighbors, family members and business contacts, I’ve concluded that what we do is not well understood. I think content marketing needs a better name.

Like a lot of business terms, content marketing can glaze a listener’s eyes. Rather than enlighten and inform, the name obscures. Not “marketing,” so much. Everyone understands marketing, more or less. No, I’ve decided, the problem is content. The word in and of itself is, well, boring and vague. I hated the word when the newsroom adopted it years ago to mean “news delivered by any means.” I hate it even more now, because I think it devalues the work Internet marketing firms do for clients and their noble goal of developing closer relationships with their customers and prospects.

The word content implies a bland commodity churned out of mills, and some Dallas SEO firms use content for nothing more than search visibility. But for the niche audiences we strive to engage, our work is the opposite of boring and vague. It is interesting and specific.

That brings me back to where I started: “What are we doing?” In working through the question, I’ve come up with several phrases that answer the question more precisely:

Story Marketing: Each of our clients has a good story that deserves to be heard, about a sometimes complex or abstract product or service that solves painful problems for real people. What could be more compelling? Today, it’s up to each company to speak for itself. What we do is tell that compelling storyin plain language so more people will know it and look to our clients for answers.

Idea Marketing: Many of the clients we represent are engaged in providing breakthrough solutions to persistent problems. They present the marketplace with new ideas. What we do is communicate new ideas.

Audience Marketing: In the old days, tech businesses hired a technology public relations firms to spread messages to the general public through mass media. That approach can still work – albeit less effectively as the media shatters in ever-smaller shards – for companies selling blue jeans or hamburgers. But in retrospect, the old Just-hire-a-PR-firm approach was never very effective for reaching the very small universe of leaders who make B2B purchasing decisions. What we do is engage the audience of decision-makers our clients need to reach.

Purpose Marketing: In traditional media, the only daily goal is to inform. (One of many reasons the business has foundered, but I digress.) Viewed through one lens, we do the same thing: We inform. But there’s a big difference between journalism and what we do because we have a target audience and address its needs unapologetically. What we do is inform with specific purpose.

So, to a large degree, my job hasn’t changed much at all. I still strive to tell good stories using time-tested techniques. It’s just that the stories I tell now have a specific audience, specific ideas and a specific purpose.

Now, about that name …

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