It’s at least once a week when I catch someone talking about content marketing as just another buzzword. I try to smile when it happens, like in the comments of Marcus Sheridan’s recent post on content marketing.
Most people who aren’t involved in the industry on a daily basis may in fact think that the word and the industry came out of nowhere. To help, I put together this list of happenings that may (or may not) change your feeling on the matter.
#1 – The Industry Is Over 100 Years Old
The content marketing industry itself has been around for well over 100 years. John Deere is often given credit for being a first mover in this area with their publication, The Furrow, which was originally developed (in print) in 1895. The Furrow is still produced today on a monthly basis to 40 countries and over 1.5 million in distribution, becoming a must-read by farmers over that time.
#2 The Industry Is Simply Organizing Itself
When I started working in the industry in the late 1990’s, the industry was called custom publishing in the United States. Custom media and custom content were also common terms, as well as branded content and customer media. In Europe, both customer media and customer publishing have been popular.
With so many different terms used by publishers, agencies and marketers, it was challenging (to say the least) to have intelligent conversations with other marketers about what we actually did for a living, or what business challenge we were trying to solve with the use of content. Today (as we speak), we are all coming together under one united banner, very similar to what happened in the past with email marketing, social media, word-of-mouth and other marketing disciplines.
#3 – Industry Leaders Have Adopted the Term
Industry leaders such as Brian Clark (aka Copyblogger) and Rand Fishkin (here’s his Content Marketing Manifesto) now use content marketing as the defacto industry term. In addition, leading content agencies such as McMurry (who produce publications for the Ritz-Carlton and Aon), as well as research firms such as Altimeter, have firmly adopted the term. Content marketing titles are also starting to emerge, such as Eloqua’s Joe Chernov, who is VP of Content Marketing.
#4 Content Marketing Has Gone Global
The Association of Publishing Agencies, the association for content marketing in the UK, just announced their renaming to the Content Marketing Association. In addition, the international body of content marketing associations, formerly knows as the ICPF (International Custom Publishing Forum) recently changed their name to the ICMF (International Content Marketing Forum).
#5 Content Marketing Falls Outside the Definition of a Buzzword
According to Merriam-Webster, buzzword is defined as an important-sounding usually technical word or phrase often of little meaning used chiefly to impress laymen. There are a few reasons why content marketing cannot be defined as a buzzword.
- First, of all the names for the industry itself, from custom publishing to customer media, content marketing is the most relevant term for the discipline itself. We market our products and services the a content-first business process…thus, content marketing.
- Say “Content Marketing” to any layperson and they have no idea what you are talking about. I never use the phrase content marketing when talking to anyone outside the industry.
Regardless of whether you think content marketing is a buzzword or not, or what your definition of content marketing is, the discipline and business process of content marketing is here to stay. Content marketing has been called a buzzword for well over 5 years now and the discipline is older than most marketing practices. Pretty long for a buzzword, don’t you think?