The other day I was a guest on Dr. Jon Buscall’s very fine podcast and we chatted about the marketing challenge of fighting through information density on the web. It was a fun and intense discussion but then he interjected a comment that caused me to twitch:
“I hope our listeners aren’t frightened off by this discussion!”
It made me pause. Could that be true?
I have written and talked a lot lately about wrestling with the challenges of attention and content overload (aka “Content Shock“). Has this discussion frightened people off?
There is no question that the tsunami of content in the face of an increasingly limited attention span should be the number one concern, the number one discussion, and the number one source of innovation in our field right now. You just can’t pretend this is business as usual. Our job is hard and it will be getting harder.
But I ended that post (and each discussion) by emphasizing that content marketing is not over and expressing optimism about the opportunities ahead. And yet, reactions from some fellow bloggers have been along the lines of “Schaefer said we are doomed!”
So I have a need to present some balance here.
This natural evolution of a marketing channel by no means defines the opportunity ahead of us. In fact, content marketing is driving some incredibly important trends. Here are five reasons I am wildly excited by the future of content marketing:
1) Focus on human engagement
The smartest marketers realize that simply dumping content on the market doesn’t optimize the opportunities for a business. For content to be powerful, it has to MOVE. People need to share it, spread it, and engage with it.
Now let’s step back and think about the behaviors that goal will drive in a company. What do you have to achieve to not only create content but move it?
- The content has to be valuable enough to be shared.
- The company has to consistently, actively, and ambitiously find and nurture an engaged audience who is willing to share that content.
- The organization must continually measure and fine-tune this process so that it delivers increasing business value.
When I compare this to how we pushed marketing materials around 20 years ago, I think this is absolutely focusing attention on the right customer-centered activities!
2) The wide open opportunities
If you are working for a top brand locking horns in a very competitive national market like mobile phones, fast food, or automotive you are probably thinking, “Dude, content shock occurred for us years ago!”
But the fact is, for the majority of businesses, content marketing is still a wide open space.
With the increasingly personal and local nature of search results, you don’t need vast resources and millions of dollars to make an impact with your content if you are a small or regional business. The key to success is to find an un-saturated niche and dominate it. Right now, almost every niche is un-saturated so find your spot and go for it!
3) The possibilities for content creators
In the history of the world, there has been almost no opportunity to make a decent living as an artist (what we now call content creators!) unless you had a rich patron or you somehow were elevated to an elite cultural status.
There has never been a greater opportunity to monetize your writing, your design skills, your love of video and editing than right now. And we’re just at the beginning.
The Internet’s appetite for quality content is insatiable.
4) Open source marketing
Here is another content marketing trend that is just so exciting to me … if we do this right, we are really establishing a channel for “open source marketing.”
Only a small fraction of the stories about our businesses come from our own company. People love you and they are blogging about it, tweeting about and Instagramming about it (yes, that is a real verb now!). Most of the stories are OUT THERE, not on our website. How do we capture those amazing stories, amplify them and celebrate them?
It’s truly open-source marketing. Every person who loves your product, university, non-profit, hospital or cause can move and promote your message. Find them. Help them.
I’m convinced that the most exciting opportunity for content marketing rests with THEIR stories, not OUR stories.
5) Setting the stage for an amazing future
In the hurricane of our daily jobs, it is easy to be pre-occupied with today and the here and now. It’s hard work, it’s a grind, and there is a lot of pressure to compete.
But I love to get people to look up now and then and picture what is going to be happening in the next five years. With wearable technology and augmented reality, we are on the brink of a marketing world without boundaries!
What will content marketing look like when the Internet surrounds us like the air that we breathe? How do we connect with our customers when there is a digital layer on top of the “real world,” when every wall, window and table top becomes a canvas for our story?
My gosh. The possibilities are endless, inspiring, breath-taking!
See? Now you have me all wound up! Just thinking about the possibilities of content marketing get my juices flowing. Are you with me?
Photo of Benson the excited dog courtesy Flickr CC and Damon Garrett.