time out

Are you in the content marketing business, or are you in the content creation business? Is there a difference?

Let’s take a time out, breathe a deep breath, and consider a more holistic idea of content marketing in a digital world.

Last week I saw this provocative and interesting blog post title: “The Top 100 Blog Posts About Content Marketing in 2015.”

Really cool, right? It had a lot of great stuff listed but when I dug into the post, something strange popped out at me. Let’s see if you detect it, too. Here’s a sample of topics from the blog posts listed:

  • Before You Hit Publish, Here Are 10 Things To Do With Your Blog Content
  • How to Start a Business Blog: Seven Essentials for Success
  • How to Craft Headlines That Draw People to Your Content
  • 10 Ideas to Inspire Your Next Blog Post
  • 29 Free Online Design Tools for Creating Stunning Visual Content for the Web
  • A Simple Formula for Writing Kick-Ass Blog Titles

Do you notice anything weird about these blog post titles? I did. This is a “best of” list about content marketing, yet these posts have very little to do with marketing.

In fact, about 90 percent of the blog posts on the list are best practices for creating a piece of content and have little to do with the business of marketing at all. I’m not picking on the post or the writer. I am simply using this example to make a point about a larger issue: I sense that many people are confusing the act of creating content with the profession of marketing.

Isn’t it time we think more boldly about what we do and what is possible? Is this the best we can do? Shouldn’t we be reaching higher in this field?

Blogging is not the same as marketing

Screenshot 2016-01-10 21.02.59Marketing is the strategic act of creating demand and acquiring customers. Today, content is certainly a key component in this activity for many companies, so “content marketing” is a legitimate and vital point for exploration.

On a “best of” list about content marketing, here are a few of the topics I would have expected to see:

  • Content’s evolving role in the buyer’s journey
  • Trends in content marketing automation
  • New methods to promote and distribute content
  • Strategies to deal with the Facebook’s new publishing strategy
  • The impact of big data on content and customer acquisition strategy
  • Measuring content marketing in a way that is meaningful to your business
  • The changing relationship between SEO and content
  • Content as an imperative in personal and organizational branding
  • Strategic perspectives on engagement with our content and community management

In some way, all of these topics are essential to either creating demand, acquiring/keeping customers, or both. Aren’t these the topics we need to be covering to move our industry forward on the web?

Reality check

Are you really in the business of marketing … or are you in the business of creating content? There’s a difference. Shouldn’t the idea of “content marketing” be something much broader than writing a good headline or finding a new way to illustrate your blog post?

I’m not saying there is no value in these more tactical content creation posts. There is, and they’re fun to read. But is it time to take the conversation up a notch? If posts on better headlines and pretty illustrations truly represents the best we have on content marketing writing for a year, it suggests there is a wide open space for some new thought leaders to emerge. Something to think about. Maybe that new thought leader is you.

Top photo courtesy Flickr CC and Mark

Second photo courtesy Flickr CC and Mike Licht

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