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Looking into the latest Content Marketing stats, I discovered this insightful data point:

“The recipe for success for content marketing in 2020? Catering to your audience. According to the CMI, 88 percent of top-performing content marketing programs target their audience’s needs rather than a stock sales messaging approach.”

If my memory serves me right, all marketing communication needs to be relevant to be successful. Selling meat to vegetarians is a waste of money, just like marketing heavy machinery to school children. (On a side note, 12% of these programs are using the stock sales messaging approach and they are still top performers? Who are these people?)

What the above insightful stat tells me that there is major confusion in the content marketing world. Just look at all the definitions people use:

Content Marketing Institute: “Content Marketing is about attracting an audience to an experience (or “destination”) that you own, build, and optimize to achieve your marketing objectives.”

Even more confusing, the Content Marketing Institute has a second definition: “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” As stated before, replace content marketing with marketing communication and it works.

In this paper, the authors quote Rowley from an article: “Content marketing can be defined as a management process where a firm identify, analyze and satisfy customer demand to gain profit with the use of digital content through electronic channels.”

Jay Acunzo defines: “Content marketing is just solving the same customer problems as your product but through media you create and distribute.”

I’m more confused than ever. That’s very concerning. Especially when some sites claim that 26% of the total marketing budget of B2C marketers is directed toward content marketing. It seems as robust as the claim that by the end of this year, 50% of all searches will be voice searches. Making these claims is a proven strategy never to be taken seriously by real professionals.

Content is about attitude

If your brand has not a clearly defined attitude, it’s better to stick with traditional advertising. If you rely on creating magic worlds where beautiful business people smile at each other during their meetings, where B2B buyers look like the software solution changed their 80-hour workweek to a 1-hour playdate, where cars only travel on empty roads – stick with advertising. Content doesn’t claim to be native just to be found out as pedestrian advertising. That’s the seedy side of content.

Content is bigger. Content is meaningful and substantial. Content can withstand critical eyes. Content has attitude. And, that’s the reason why good content will beat any other marketing tactic.

Content has to be essential

We can all live without advertising but we can’t live without content. Good advertising has always been centered around outstanding content. Only essential content is good content. What is Nike without “Just Do it”? That tagline is the sun that feeds and brings to life all the other marketing tactics of the sneaker firm.

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Content with attitude transformed VW into a market force.

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Non-essential, bad content.

Content should be the premium tool of the communication industry. Content is king for all admired brands. It drives leads, is the central nervous system of the whole communication universe. Content is the attitude of a brand.

Let me leave you with one stat: 99.9% of all content marketing is nothing more than bad marketing and buzzword bingo. I made that stat up but I’m pretty sure it’s true. Because 99.9% of so-called content marketing has no attitude, no point of view, no backbone. It gives the most amazing opportunity for marketers a bad name. What a shame.