By Michael Brenner published December 25, 2013

The Next Big Question in Content Marketing

[Editor’s note: Happy Holidays! This week, the editorial team at Content Marketing Institute wanted to share some of the best content marketing blog posts we’ve seen from the CMI Online Training and Certification program’s roster of expert instructors. Today’s post originally appeared on Michael Brenner’s B2B Marketing Insider blog on September 17, 2013. 

sign-future of content marketingLast week I attended Content Marketing World, where I joined over 1,700 marketers from more than 40 countries around the world. This was the biggest marketing conference I have ever attended. And it represented a huge increase over the 1,000 marketers who attended last year.

What makes Content Marketing World so great? There are a lot of things, such as the mastermind behind the whole operation, Joe Pulizzi (@JoePulizzi) and his amazing staff at the Content Marketing Institute.

There’s also the general sense that this is the right topic at the right time in our industry.

But mainly it comes down to these two things: The content is amazing (as you would expect!), and the connections I made were even better. I’ve never seen such an amazing collection of smart, forward-thinking and passionate marketing professionals.

This year I noticed a subtle change in the biggest question being asked by most speakers and attendees. We were no longer asking, “Is content marketing the future of marketing?” We were asking, “What is the future of content marketing?” It’s a subtle difference with huge implications.

4 reasons why we need to ask, “What is the future of content marketing?”

  1. Content marketing has arrived: The attendance of the show. The collection of speakers. The increase in brands with great success stories to tell. The explosion of new tools. All these point to the fact that we have reached the tipping point where content marketing can no longer be ignored by brand marketers.
  2. The campaign-only model is dead: Most executives think marketing is the same thing as advertising or promotion. We are no longer the folks who blow up balloons at trade shows. And while advertising campaigns and trade shows will continue to be a big part of what we do. It is no longer all we do, We now have to create always-on, continuous programs that drive demand.
  3. Content consumption by our buyers is increasing: While many people focus on the amount of information being created and how we have to “break through the noise,” we also need to see that the amount of information being consumed by our buyers is increasing pretty dramatically. Google’s “Zero Moment Of Truth” research showed that the number of sources we look for in making a purchase has doubled (2011 vs. 2010).
  4. Customer-centricity must be at the heart of content marketing objectives: We have to make it all about the customer. And if we do execute on the vision of “brand journalism,” buyers will learn to trust us. And this will ultimately influence sales.

So what is the future of content marketing?

I see the future of content marketing as:

  • More visual: The growth in visual content is astounding. My friend Todd Wheatland (@ToddWheatland) did a great job presenting on this at the show.
  • Quantity content with quality to support the growing information needs of our customers.
  • Brands will resemble publishers and assemble newsrooms, and will hire or train journalists who can tell stories and contribute to major publications. Look at my friend Steve Olenski (@SteveOlenski) as one great example.
  • Sponsored stories: Brands will continue to create more quality sponsored content that is buyer-centric and that removes the brand from the story.
  • Content length will continue downward as our real-time, mobile world seeks smaller, more “snackable” and more “shareable” content. 

But now I’d like to hear your point of view: What do you see in the future of content marketing?

Stay tuned for more details on the CMI Online Training and Development program. And if you are looking for more ideas to help you with content marketing, Read CMI’s Content Marketing Playbook: 24 Epic Ideas for Connecting with Your Customers.

Author: Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner is the CEO of Marketing Insider Group, and co-author of best-selling book The Content Formula. Michael is recognized as a Top B2B Marketer, Content Marketer, and Social Media Marketer. Follow Michael on Twitter @BrennerMichael.

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  • Qasim Eisa

    Content Marketing is really effective today, and that is technically and physically proven, and I had a personal experience with content marketing that has an amazing reward on me. But the question is:
    Does Content Marketing work with every business?

    • Patrick Brown

      We find that content marketing works for products where the consumer needs a lot of information to make their decision. I believe that content marketing can also help differentiate you in a crowded marketplace but your content needs to be unique and in your own voice.

      If you are a recruiter you may decide to use content marketing to speak to top employers where you are looking either to place your candidates or to obtain exclusive retained searches.

      • Qasim Eisa

        Yes sure content marketing works when consumers need a lot of information. I totally agree that.

  • Leisure Group Travel Magazine

    I completely agree, we have had great successes with our content marketing model and have tweaked and expanded it greatly over the last few years. Our biggest challenge seems to be educating our clients, as many of them still cling to the idea that “online advertising” means banner advertisements.

  • Allen Graves

    “Quantity content with quality” Be careful with that. If not understood properly, I’ve seen this concept ruin company after company!

  • James Perrin

    Nice post Michael. Personally I think as Content Marketing evolves there will be clear distinctions and lines between the types of content that brands publish. For example, some of the content they produce will be news based, research based, but also fun and irreverent. Not all brands will be able to produce all of these types of content, and may opt for one or another, where as other brands may be able to produce all types. I think this evolution will start to happen in 2014 and beyond.

  • Mobile Copywriter

    Content marketing will do wonders for small business owners who embrace the concepts. Very nice post — Mobile Copywriter