Content marketing is hot -- finally! It's the term du jour in digital marketing and advertising, getting its figurative place at the table and its own literal track at every marketing conference of note. Content is even getting its own dedicated conferences now -- several of them.
With great power comes great responsibility, as well as a not-insignificant number of "me too" arrivals at the party.
Enter the age of parochial content marketing.
What's parochial content marketing? It's a trend we've seen in the past when new marketing channels suddenly erupt into prominence, most recently social media.
Five years ago, every email marketing solution was suddenly a social media company. Every search engine marketing vendor was suddenly a social media solution. If digital video was the offering, it was a digital video for social media providers. I think you get the drift.
Now all those email companies, search vendors, video providers, and so on down the line are -- you guessed it -- content marketing solutions. Even one of the largest social media platforms has begun a major marketing initiative for its content marketing product.
There's a good side to this. It means content marketing is maturing, mainstreaming, and that its importance is finally recognized. But there's a not-so-great darker side too.
The dark side is a parochial approach to content marketing, the view that "content marketing" means screwing search, or email, or video, or blogging into a container labeled "content marketing" and ticking that box off the list of "must-do marketing tactics."
Yes, vendors struggle to remain relevant -- often a tough job in a landscape in which tactics such as email and search and site design couldn't be more relevant, but have also been relegated to wallpaper status by virtue of the fact that they have aged out at a ripe old decade of service mark. A couple of years ago, I interviewed more than 50 Fortune 500 marketers on the content marketing channels they were using. One cited search. Zero cited email. (Ha! As if!)
Email is a container for content. Search has nothing to find if there isn't any content. Ads are filled with content -- it's just called "creative" in that channel. There simply is no marketing without content.
Smart marketers know that, and they know that the best content begins with a strategy. Not with a channel.
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