Content marketing is the buzzword that didn’t go away. Instead, the world’s largest brands have been pouring time, effort and money into producing unique and engaging content through which they can reach out to their audiences.

In fact, recent research shows brands in North America are dedicating 29 percent of their total marketing budget to content marketing. As we move towards 2017, 45 percent of marketers predict that budget will stay the same, while 39 percent expect it to increase.

Content Marketing: Looking Past The Semantics

It might be a passing phase — or it might be because 82 percent of marketers who blog report positive ROI from their marketing efforts.

There has been some controversy over the definition and relevance of the term ‘content marketing’; and I want to set the record straight.

Within Ian Truscott’s intelligent defense of content marketing, he highlighted that the term doesn’t necessarily imply that a new form of marketing has emerged. As many critics of the phrase have rightly asserted, brands have been producing marketing content for generations.

But the evolution of content marketing from direct mail to Instagram stories has not been a benign one. Today’s content marketing practices are a far cry from what they were just ten years ago, let alone fifty years ago.

Hence, it’s time to put the semantics aside. It doesn’t matter what you call it — so long as we all understand that we’re discussing the act of producing useful content that entices customers towards a brand, a product, or a service.

Because that’s what content marketing is, and that’s what 2017 desperately needs to be about.

The Age of Content

At a time in when smartphones and virtual reality are commonplace, you could be forgiven for thinking that you’re in the age of technology. Whereas actually, you’re in the age of content.

As I just mentioned, the production of marketing content is nothing new. However, the way in which consumers engage with content has changed drastically.

I recently had the chance to hear HubSpot’s Ian Byrne talk about the role of content in the digital transformation process. Throughout his presentation, he played down the role of technology, and underlined the importance of content – as well as the strategy behind delivering it.

Byrne’s example was that of Blockbuster and Netflix. He highlighted that the two companies had the exact same technology available to them, but ultimately, it was Netflix’s strategy that won them the war.

Learning Opportunities

Or, you could say, it was Blockbuster’s lack of a strategy that lost it for them.

Similarly — in a world full of consumers so hungry for rich and informative content — the assumption that adopting the latest technologies will automatically encourage growth is nothing short of irresponsible.

Rather, it’s the strategy behind how your content is delivered that will win you the war against your competitors.

No Excuses

The blunt reality of the situation is, 80 percent of B2B marketers already have a content marketing strategy. If you’re still part of the remaining 20 percent, it’s time to ask yourself how far you’re willing to fall behind the pack.

Thankfully though, it’s not too late to jump on the bandwagon.

Diving into content marketing is simply a matter of budgeting for the production of content through 2017’s most popular mediums. Those mediums will include whitepapers, blog posts, social media activities, video content, podcasts, Snapchat stories and everything in between.

With these statistics in mind, and with an increasing number of avenues into content marketing opening up, there’s simply no excuse for not producing unique and engaging content in 2017.

So, if 2016 wasn’t the year your company dipped its toes into content marketing, it’s time to make some serious plans for the year to come.

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