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Content marketing – what’s all the fuss about?

I’ve been around marketing for a long time, and I’m getting really tired of having the words “content marketing” shoved in my face all the time. Before anyone starts calling me a dinosaur who needs to keep up with the times, I have two things to say. I believe in everything that content marketers spout about, and it’s nothing that we all shouldn’t have always been doing.

Even the phrase content marketing isn’t new.  As far back as 1999, the author Jeff Cannon was telling the world that, “In content marketing, content is created to provide consumers with the information they seek.” Sound familiar? Even Jeff wasn’t exactly a pioneer though. Let’s start by looking at what marketers believe is the essence of content marketing.

What is content marketing all about?

According to what you read, content marketing is about providing potential customers with information that they will find relevant and helpful. The aim is to get them to see the business or organization as someone to trust; someone they can rely on. This is turn means they are more likely to invest in product or service that the business provides.

Of course with the ever changing Google algorithms that are more and more taking account of the quality of content, those all-important search engine rankings are also a major benefit of good content marketing. Don’t get me wrong all that sounds marvellous, but is it anything new? No, it isn’t. Think back to the days before the Internet, or even before TV advertising really took hold.

The days before technology

Before technology took over the world how did businesses ever manage to survive? Easy, they provided what customers wanted. How did people know about what they provided? They told them. Years back when people went to the corner store to do their shopping, the store owner would tell them all about that latest tea that was starting to be the thing to drink. They would speak about the flavour qualities it had, and how it was a healthy beverage. The customer would then go out and tell their friends about how the store was a great place to buy new products and how the store owner really knows what he’s talking about. Hey presto, content marketing. Way before Tim Berners-Lee was even a glimmer in his mother’s eye, businesses were using information to attract customers.

Does content marketing work?

Of course content marketing works, but not because it’s called “content marketing”. People have always respected a business that is able to give them information, and isn’t just interested in the hard sell. Problems arose when the digital age flooded the market with people who wanted to take a fast route to making money. For a while it worked, to an extent. But then, people became more digital savvy, and they wanted people to care about what they wanted again, and not just what they had to spend. This is what content marketing does. It’s a very important and useful tool, but trust me; it’s not a new one.

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GrumpyCMO is where I air my thoughts on marketing. I'm Bo Ekkelund, and I have been in the marketing field for more than 15 years. The blog is called GrumpyCMO, as I call it as I see it. I see a lot of hype in marketing and I see a lot of very basic mistakes being made in marketing and this is where I tell the world about it. Oh, and I also air my thoughts on marketing strategy, marketing's place in the organization and the changing challenges of CMO's. Some of the articles on this site have also been published on other sites, such as Marketcommunity and LinkedIn.