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The Trickle Out of Traditional Media into Content Marketing Turns to Flood Starting Now

I have been hesitant to push this concept too much, but the evidence is just too vast to ignore anymore.  Those of you who are readers of this blog know that I’ve been talking about the push into content marketing from traditional media for years.

It’s not like that’s any big revelation.  We’ve been seeing traditional print and now even online display revenues take a beating at media companies. Layoffs and restructuring abound (even at Gawker and MySpace). Technology and consumer behavior has changed the landscape entirely and a new business model has emerged.

But, until this point, it has been happening slowly.  The 20% of traditional media spending that was chopped off after the 2001-2003 recession never came back, but it did stabilize, where we were seeing flat spending across the board in most industries. Over the past five years, marketers have been slowly socking away more money into their own content efforts, and pulling pennies from traditional media space to do it.

The economic “crisis” (or whatever you want to call it) will fundamentally change where marketing dollars go. Frankly, I’ve been surprised that more companies haven’t taken this on sooner.  Yes, companies spend between 27 and 30% of their budgets on their own content, but that number should be more like 50%. The case for content – engagement, search engine optimization, lead generation – it’s there, no doubt about it.

Here’s the news though.  Yes, advertising spending will drop substantially over the next year+. And yes, money will be moving around quite a bit, with more (even though a much smaller dollar number), going into online marketing. But the shift from traditional to content marketing activities will happen swiftly because of one big reason now – marketers now have the excuse they needed.

Seems almost silly, but marketing departments in larger companies are often times slow to move (you know who you are).  They have well-worn paths with agencies and marketing partners that go back years and decades. Over the past five years, marketers have been testing and “playing around with” creating their own content on a significant basis (much like P&G does with and, but we haven’t seen the significant “shift” as of yet.

This recession/crisis/slowdown is the excuse that marketers will use for moving traditional money out and getting creative. That means significant moves into content – blogs, articles, white papers, video series, variable enewsletters, eBooks – heck, even custom magazines are still hanging in there. If they are not already doing so, most companies will evolve themselves into true publishers of media, targeted to their specific segments of customers and prospects.

In the previous recession five years ago, most of this “content” stuff was still unproven (even though content marketing spending is in excess of $30 billion dollars per year).  Today, we know it works, and marketers, although still a bit unsure and tentative, are licking their chops to move money into this area.

Inform or entertain. Inform or entertain.  Say it again…inform or entertain. That’s how engagement is created. That’s how you become a part of the conversation.  That’s how you create a dialogue and stop shouting. Both are tough to do today without creating relevant, compelling and consistent content.

How do I know all this? I have the opportunity to talk with custom publishers on a regular basis.  These are the guys that traditionally have provided content services for companies (although that is changing fast – but that’s for another blog post).  You know what?  Business is up almost across the board.  Sure, there are a few big programs that have been cut, but those are being replaced by other new content projects.

Hmmm….end of times are here, and business is up.  Odd, to say the least.

Marketers are starting to get creative.  With this, we are seeing the biggest marketing supplier shakeup in history.  Publishers, custom publishers, pr firms, advertising agencies, interactive firms, SEO/SEM firms are all going after this thing called “content” (call it what you will…content marketing, custom publishing, custom content, branded content, corporate content, etc.). The next five years will be the wild wild west of mergers, buyouts and closings we have ever seen in the marketing industry. Those that understand the value of content (from a journalistic standpoint) will win.

If this prediction was available in a stock, I’d bet the farm.