Declaring ‘content marketing is dead’ is dead

Reports of content’s death have been greatly exaggerated

Try typing ‘content marketing is dead’ into your search engine of choice. You’ll find plenty of articles that seem to agree with the statement, or are at least discussing it.

About 4.6 million of them, when I tried it.

But here we all are, creating content that – directly or indirectly – promotes a company or service. Content that ‘markets’, you could say.

A couple of weeks ago, hundreds of content marketers descended on the Roundhouse in London for the International Content Marketing Awards 2017. The best in creative talent, dressed to the nines, food and drink galore, 29 categories and over 400 entries.

If this is death, it doesn’t feel too painful to me.

A taste for the superlative

There’s one underlying reason for the large number of articles around the subject. In the scrum for clicks, the dramatic will always win out against the mild.

So ‘content marketing is a natural continuation of a long-running, evolving relationship between business and audience’ (more on that later) is unlikely to grab too many eyeballs over a ‘XXX is dead!’ piece.

But is that tide turning?

BuzzFeed UK’s editorial director Tom Phillips, a man who knows a thing or two about grabbing eyeballs, has previously talked about something called litotes. That is, using understatement to emphasise a point. Less ‘this video will blow your mind’ and more ‘this video isn’t too shabby’.

In a news feed that increasingly resembles a catalogue of one-upmanship, understatement is far more likely to stand out than yet another piece of screeching hyperbole.

Reinventing the wheel

The term ‘content marketing’ might be a relatively recent invention, but it’s really just a useful phrase for something that would exist anyway.

If content marketing is dead, that means the transfer of engaging, informative information that serves an audience is no longer. And that’s just silly.

Fixation on a phrase or trend is a classic marketing mistake. The fact is that in 2017 there are many more channels for content than there have been previously, and an infinite amount of digital content can be created for an almost infinite number of platforms.

There is inevitably a wave of new, for lack of a better word, ‘stuff’ being created. It’s never been easier to create video or to produce high quality infographics, for example. The evolution of content marketing is a natural reaction to a changing environment that demands more output to be produced and provides the technology and platforms to facilitate it. As straightforward print ads once were, so now are multimedia, cross-channel campaigns.

Don’t worry about what is dying or what is version 2.0 – communicating with an audience will always be on trend.

Stand up, stand out

One thing that 99% of marketers would surely all agree on is that boring an audience is the biggest error you can make. If more content means that greater importance is put on standing out as different, then give me more content.

Talking of that, back to ‘content marketing is dead’. After 4.6 million articles on the subject, don’t you think it might be time for a new angle?

[This article originally appeared on the CMA blog]

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