Content marketing. You’ve seen the phrase around. I know you have. Unless you’re a hermit living in one of those astonishing caves in Cappadocia. In which case, welcome to the internet and thanks for stopping by my blog! Here is a link to the most important stuff online.
For the rest of us, especially those of us involved in any sort of writing or marketing or general internettery, the term is well nigh ubiquitous. But I’ve noticed a lot of folks aren’t exactly sure what it means. So let’s clear that up, mm?
The Content Marketing Institute (and let’s face it, they ought to know) define content marketing as, “a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” Pretty solid definition, for my money. But I have to admit, there’s a single word in there that’s really starting to get on my nerves. Low-key but maddening, like a popcorn shell caught under my gumline.
Now, let me make it clear that I’m not maligning the CMI. Those cats are good — and good at what they do. And the term isn’t their fault. But it grates on me. I don’t know if this is the case, but I don’t think the term was chosen so much as stumbled upon. Possibly in the context of webpage design.
“Hey, Josie, what do we call the stuff for all these text fields?”
“Uh…I dunno. Watchacallit. Content?”
“Yeah, ok. Sounds good.”
It sounds clinical. Cold. Sterile. But narrative isn’t sterile. It’s wild and old and wonderful — yes, even in the context of marketing.
We have to keep the term. It’s established, and I have to admit it is useful to have a phrase that refers to a number of different kinds of writing, from white papers to blog posts. But let’s not forget what “content” actually is. Stories. Research. Techniques both ancient and modern. Patterns hardwired into the human brain. The very way we make sense of the world. So please, don’t let yourself lose the pleasure of wordplay, the gorgeousness of storytelling tropes, the power of the well-told tale. Don’t lose the joy.