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The Opportunity to Content Market: 100 Years ago, 10 Years, Today

I had a great meeting this week with a former colleague who was asking about my early days at business media company Penton Media.

We began recanting tales of “the good ole’ days” – before the Internet became such an important part of our lives.

Opportunity to Content MarketOne particular story was about a client meeting (over a decade ago) with a large, global manufacturing company.

In that meeting with the company’s lead marketing executives, we were supposed to give our guidance on the future of their market, content and advertising.  Part of the presentation included a report with these main points:

  • In the near future, all companies will be content creators…better said, everyone will (or can be) be a publisher.  Not a publisher in the general sense, but a publisher in the sense that companies will be cultivating an audience through the consistent flow of valuable information. The difference is that non-publishers will do so for marketing purposes, not to directly gain revenue from the content production (like a publisher does).
  • Technology will be a double-edged sword for brands.  On the positive side, the cost to produce and distribute content (raw costs + resources) will be reduced, or in some cases diminished, through advances in technology.  It will also be easier to reach customers directly. At the same time, that means the competition for attention will be even greater (because more brands and individuals will be creating content).

This was from over ten years ago.  Sound familiar today?

The reaction from the client…frankly, not much.  The client didn’t buy a content program. Actually, they bought an advertising program.

But what really amazes me is that even though this has been going on for hundreds of years, and we were talking about custom publishing (now content marketing) decades ago, this concept is still new to most businesses.

New Joe?  Yes, I know that almost all companies are doing some sort of content marketing. That’s been the case for a long time. What hasn’t happened yet is for brands to show the drive and the willingness to become THE trusted experts in their niche industry through the use of content strategies.

We haven’t seen (yet) the majority of brands:

  • Identify a clear content owner (i.e., Chief Content Officer) in the organization.
  • Break down traditional silos to coordinate a content strategy throughout the organization.
  • Invest more in industry-leading content creation than in sales-oriented content creation.
  • Integrate their content strategies (storytelling) within the entire marketing strategy.
  • Train a wider group of employees on how to tell stories, and how telling those stories will affect the business.

Just to name a few.

Yes, we are getting there, but we have a long way to go.

The opportunity was there over a decade ago.  Today that opportunity is clear.  I’m honestly not sure how long the window will be open.

So, what are you doing about it?