By Joe Pulizzi published June 14, 2012

5 Reasons Why Content Marketing Is No Buzzword

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.

The Content Marketing Manifesto

View more presentations from Rand Fishkin

#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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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?

Author: Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi is the Founder of Content Marketing Institute, a UBM company, the leading education and training organization for content marketing, which includes the largest in-person content marketing event in the world, Content Marketing World. Joe is the winner of the 2014 John Caldwell Lifetime Achievement Award from the Content Council. Joe’s the author of five books, including his latest, Killing Marketing. His third book, Epic Content Marketing was named one of “Five Must Read Business Books of 2013” by Fortune Magazine. If you ever see Joe in person, he’ll be wearing orange. Follow him on Twitter @JoePulizzi.

Other posts by Joe Pulizzi

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  • Rob Skidmore

    Nice Joe. Thanks for saying it better than I could. 🙂

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Thanks Rob…hopefully someday, we’ll all stop talking about this and just start creating great information for our customers. 😉

      • Craig Hodges

        Here here… the clients know what we do now…. they just want more of it…..

  • Brian Clark

    Well done, Joe.

  • Kent

    Content marketing is always there. As you said, we just need to reorganize it. People always search for content. So, this is not a surprise.

  • Michael Rizzo

    I’ll go as far as saying SEO & Social Media Marketing our morphing into one awesome thing, called Content Marketing. Content Marketing is driving web traffic, organic & referrals, and a lot of that is being done using social media as the vehicle.  

    When I hear Rand Fishkin, giving speeches about Content Marketing, it illustrates the dramatic shift.

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Thanks Michael…yes, it’s interesting…SEO/Social and Traditional custom publishing are converging and have been for some time.  It’s nice to hear Rand and others confirm this change.

  • Suneeta

    This is a great post.Every post of yours is worth reading
    and provides a great insight to content marketing.Content marketing has been always present
    just that it necessitates sorting-out. Indeed content marketing has gone global
    and will expand in the coming time.Thanks for this splendid read.

  • Muhammad Ayaz

    Really a very nice way of presenting content and also got worth while reading and got to learn few things all the time.

    Thanks for sharing great article 🙂

  • Nick Stamoulis

    Content is the foundation of any online marketing strategy including SEO and social media.  Without content there is nothing to optimize, nothing to share, and nothing that will get you noticed.  Hardly a “little meaning” buzzword.  

  • Kivi Leroux Miller

    I am personally fine with “content marketing” because it’s what I do all day, but I am desperately searching for a more plain English or “layman” term within the nonprofit sector. Blogged about it here and would love your ideas Joe! 

    I will continue to talk about “content marketing” and “content strategy” but feel like I need a bridge term to use in the nonprofit world until people really start to get it.  “Marketing” is still a fairly new term in the nonprofit sector, so I think it’s going to be awhile. 

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Thanks Kivi…whatever term that resonates the most is the one to go with…although I wouldn’t give up on it yet.  These things take time. 😉

    • Michael Buller

      Kivi – I struggle with it too in the non-profit world. I’m at Dana-Farber and my solution has just been to use it and explain to as many of my communications peers and as often as I can. And when I explain about all that we do that IS content marketing, it clicks — sometimes. Joe’s definition of CM also helps, except for the “profit” part of it.

  • Paul Clarke

    Every touchpoint with the customer is actually content marketing. In-bound and out-bound call centre scripts are content, the conversation a sales rep has with a prospect is content. It’s entirely possible that “Content Marketing” is just another way marketers baffle clients with bulldust to derive more revenue from them. Connecting all the content channels so they work in concert to validate a brand’s promise is the sweet spot, but too many “experts” in this field concentrate only on the digital channels.

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Hi Paul…I agree, while all those things you mentioned are content, they are not all content marketing.  Much different.

  • Rodney C. Davis

     Like all great phenomena, content marketing morphed throughout the centuries but the basic concept will probably always be around because it is based on delivering what is both needed and wanted in novel ways that engage prospects.  Something that basic isn’t likely to be just a fad, regardless of the words we use to dress it up in.

  • Pingback: Top 3 excuses for not doing content marketing « Content Marketing for Technology()

  • Joe Pulizzi

    Hi Sherri…couple points.  First, content marketing is at best a peripheral part of the strategy at this time.  I wish this were not true, but we aren’t there yet.

    Regarding the name, not sure I agree.  I do like “brand storytelling” but most marketing people would think that was too flowery.  Maybe a little bit of boring is what we need to get this business process accepted.