Content and the Future of Marketing

The following is a preview of some of the topics to be discussed in our upcoming webinar Why the Future of Marketing is All About Content on August 20, 2020. More information is available here. Our thanks to Michael Brenner, CEO at Marketing Insider Group, for this guest blog.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our world so much that it’s already bordering on cliché to say so. But it’s true. Businesses are rethinking virtually every aspect of their operations—including how they market. And in marketing’s new normal, content will play a bigger role than ever.

Disruption 4.0

Before we look at the changing role of marketing content, let’s review some of the other disruptions that marketing has undergone. In the past 25 years, marketing has reinvented itself multiple times for the following revolutions:

The Internet – It’s hard to imagine marketing without websites and email, but it wasn’t that long ago when virtually every marketing asset was printed. When was the last time you reviewed a blueline before going to press?
Social Media – The advent of personal and professional social sites opened new doors for marketers — but it also made it harder to stand out from the crowd and capture attention.
Mobile – Only 13 years have passed since the iPhone debuted. Today, almost everyone on the planet walks around with a device that allows them to make one-on-one connections with brands.

So, the COVID pandemic will undoubtedly change marketing in other ways—ways we can’t even anticipate at this early stage. But given the disruptive revolutions that marketers have already navigated, it’s safe to say we’re up to the task.

Changing experiences with brands

How will content marketing change the way we build brands and generate leads? One of the major changes will be in the narratives we build to connect with customers. Historically, marketing has been the way a company talks about itself. But in this hyperconnected world, an audience can fact-check those claims immediately. What others say about you in the social media conversation and ratings and reviews will have more credibility than anything you say about yourself.

Our relationships with brands were changing before the pandemic, and the change is now intensifying. We want connection and experiences with brands—and content plays a key role in making those happen. But the focus will be on content that adds value for the customer and is relevant to their reality. The pandemic has accelerated business cycles and raised the stakes for all of us. Customers simply have less time for self-serving hype and fluff.

The importance of empathy

One of the keys to building those authentic connections is empathy. In a world of data-driven decisions and bottom-line imperatives, empathy may seem like a “nice-to-have” quality, but it’s essential in creating the content that customers will find relevant and authentic. As we’ve noted, most marketers are adept at highlighting the strengths, benefits, and differentiators of their products and brands. But an empathic approach to developing content starts with seeing the world from the customer’s eyes and understanding the motivations that drive their decisions. This is especially true in the midst of the pandemic and its aftermath and the shifting currents of social change. Some 60% of Americans say they’ll buy or boycott a brand based on its stand on racial injustice. Customers are learning to navigate an entirely new reality of business and social challenges. Content that recognizes those challenges and speaks to those issues is essential to maintaining a connection.

Are today’s marketers ready for a new future?

A study from Gartner found that 68% of CMOs are new to the most senior marketing role in the organization and have an average tenure of just 44 months. This means that they may not have experienced the 2008 downturn and have only been making decisions during a boom market when the odds of failure were lower. They may not have developed a content marketing strategy because they succeeded using other approaches, even though those approaches weren’t as effective in the long run.

But content marketing is the ideal fit for this new era of tighter budgets and the push for measurable results. It costs less and the cost is more predictable over time, versus ad spends that seem to constantly escalate. Also, content marketing typically generates a significant increase in traffic. A piece of quality content can have an impact on day-one and for months or years to come. It’s like a smart investment that pays ongoing dividends.

Partner to stay relevant, create good content faster and reap benefits with increased overhead

According to the B2B Content Marketing 2020 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends in North America published by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, 84% of B2B companies outsource content creation and with good reason. The same report states that it takes almost 4 hours to write a single blog post including the workflow of research and promotion. That’s just a single blog post! Add to that, 52% of B2B marketers report their organization has a small, or one-person, marketing/content marketing team serving the entire organization and you see that with the increased need of content beyond the top of the funnel for increased digital channels, partnering is a matter of efficiency and capability to meet demands. Working with a partner that can assist analysis, development and creation of good content is not a nice to have, it’s a business imperative.

Adapting to technological disruption, changing experiences with brands, a new reality due to the pandemic response, and the need for greater accountability with C-suite leaders—they’re all contributing to how quality content will drive the future of marketing. Please plan to join us on August 20, 2020, for a more in-depth discussion of the future of content marketing. View on-demand replay here.

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