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Content marketing is dead – or is it?

Have you read the posts lately about the death of social media marketing? I could link to them but I’ll save you the pain. Search. They all have a different angle. Indeed, while some are still proclaiming email marketing is dead, others already say social media marketing is dead. Well, content marketing is dead too.

Do you know what killed social media? Experts who’ve put it in silos, fanatics of the shiny new object syndrome and businesses having used social media the wrong way and now saying it doesn’t work. For the latter the cause often lies in the consequence: they have no clue why and how they wanted it to work to begin with.

SEO is dead as well. And email. Gone, over. But there’s always something new. Content marketing is the new search. It’s also the new PR. In fact, all marketing is content marketing. Seth Godin said so. You know. What really killed social media is all the talk about it. And about the channels. Just like all the talk about content marketing and – again – channels.

Of course social isn’t dead in reality. It just became part of what smart brands do. While for others it’s still brand new. Amazing, isn’t it? That’s what you get with umbrella terms such as content marketing.

Today I declare content marketing dead as well. Or do I? Content marketing is being used in so many contexts that it becomes so unbelievably confusing and boring. Content marketing has become a hollow term, it’s gone viral and where it – maybe – belongs: in the hands of everyone feeling the urge to use it. It’s a free world. At the same time, everything is dynamic. So, it’s good content marketing evolves. But not if we forget what it was all about to start with.

Content marketing has become meaningless – kinda

Everyone is doing content marketing. PR. Marketing. For search. Blogging. Publishing. Putting white papers online. Video production. Translation. Copywriting. Making presentations. Putting charts online. Translating. Or 5-second videos. Uploading pictures of the plants in the office. Putting up an infographic and adding 3 words to it. In anything, really. And from all possible perspectives. Even in advertising and email. Oh, no, email was dead, sorry. The term content marketing is so popular that it lost all meaning, despite efforts to put it back in a more “integrated” – or better: connected – marketing perspective, revolving around the customer experience. And a customer-centric one.

Content marketing is a hollow term, at least in lots of the situations it’s used. Is content marketing just marketing now? Sure it is, it always has been. But it’s different and it will remain so, at least if you know what sets it apart and where it fits in the broader puzzle. In a few years content marketing will be declared dead anyway and just be called something else. But that doesn’t matter. Content, marketing and customer experiences matter. Stories. Touchpoint-oriented approaches going across silos aiming to turn content in experiences. Hence the name of this site by the way.

I – and all of us – keep making the mistake of using jargon and broad terms to describe evolutions instead of focusing on what matters and the language real people speak. Your customer couldn’t care about the term content marketing, except if he got a coupon for using it.

Know what? Become a content marketing expert. For less than a dollar per day, really. I guess you still have a few years until the content marketing cash cow is fully milked. And then get back to marketing. Fun, effective, jargon-free, using content, focusing on the connected and integrated customer experience, social and non-political. I’ll do my best. The jargon-free part will be the hardest. And avoiding the term content marketing when I’m talking about using content for marketing. And you know what? Marketing alone doesn’t even cut it anymore. Nor does social business. More than ever you will need to have an overal digital business perspective to thrive and survive.

Don’t blame anyone if your ‘content marketing’ fails because you ignored to define “what works”. Like those businesses saying social media marketing doesn’t work because they listened to all the talk and boring noise.

So, now that content marketing is dead, can we start doing content marketing as in using content in a continuous, consistent, smart, strategic and valuable way where and why it matters and leave the debates about content marketing to…content marketers (because no one else really cares about those ‘umbrella’-related different views anyway)?

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