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Over half of businesses today use content marketing in some way. And that number is only going to grow, according to the latest survey conducted by The Manifest. The study traces the concepts roots back 300 years, when Benjamin Franklin used Poor Richard’s Almanack to actually promote his brother’s printing business. Content format has evolved…

The Growth of Content Marketing

Over half of businesses today use content marketing in some way. And that number is only going to grow, according to the latest survey conducted by The Manifest. The study traces the concepts roots back 300 years, when Benjamin Franklin used Poor Richard’s Almanack to actually promote his brother’s printing business. Content format has evolved over the years, but the concept has remained the same. Here are some interesting findings from their data:

* “Companies produce a variety of content, but videos (72%), blog posts (69%), and research and original data (60%) are the most popular.”

* “Nearly two-thirds (62%) of companies with more than 5,000 employees publish content daily.”

* Businesses are also publishing a variety of content to appeal to different audiences


The field is only growing; a recent study by Technavio predicts that the content marketing could be worth nearly $413 billion by 2021.

“In recent years, legacy publishers such as Atlantic Media, The New York Times and Time Inc. have spun off agency-style units that create branded content for clients that mimics editorial,” observed The Marketing Insider in a recent post, “to engage in compelling new ways with their ad-blind customers, major brand marketers turned to them, as well as to their ad firms, to compose everything from native articles to explainer videos to social posts.” However, they noted that many brands are setting up their own editorial shops, poaching journalists and art directors, to create their own on-brand content internally.

This is welcome news for those who began their careers in newspaper publishing and other media. According to this chart from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of jobs in newspapers declined from 457,800 in July 1990 to 183,200 in March 2016. More than 50,000 periodical jobs have also gone away during the same time period.

These are interesting times for those in the “content” field indeed.

Posted by Joel on May 08 2018 • Content Marketing

Silicon Valley's Media Takeover?

imageIf you are interested in the future of the state of journalism and media, as I am, check out this interesting story: Can Tech Startups Do Journalism? The story examines three titles--MEL, Real Life, and Van Winkle’s--and asks whether these models could be representative of the future of publishing. As interesting as the question of whether tech startups are up to the task is the notion of the changing model of publishing itself. MEL and Van Winkle’s, for instance, are published by retailers with an interest of taking part in their respective industry conversations with customers (Dollar Shave Club and Casper).

Writer Alyssa Bereznak examines the new space that these types of publications are beginning to carve out: “In its efforts to stake out some editorial integrity, Van Winkle’s wedged itself into a space between journalism and sponsored content, which the American Press Institute defines as material that “takes the same form and qualities of a publisher’s original content” and “serves useful or entertaining information as a way of favorably influencing the perception of the sponsor brand.” In her story, Bereznak also looks at other custom publications, such as Here, published by luggage company Away and others. It’s an interesting read to be sure.

Posted by Joel on November 22 2017 • Content Marketing

Does Paper beat Digital?

Does paper beat digital? What does neuroscience say?

An interesting post at Forbes says that paper still has its place in many cirlces. “Those marketers who have been looking forward to the day when print content is gone entirely may be surprised by the latest neuroscience research,” writes contributor Roger Dooley. “Rather than an all-digital world, it appears that a multi-channel approach that leverages the unique benefits of paper with the convenience and accessibility of digital will perform best.”

Here are some results from a study conducted by Temple University, which used fMRI brain scans to compare digital and paper:


Posted by Joel on July 30 2017 • Content Marketing

Brand Magazines

imagePrint is very much alive, writes Clare McDermott at the Content Markting Institute blog. And she highlights nine brands that use magazines as a central piece to their marketing initiatives.

“While marketers flood new digital channels and explore the latest amplification strategies,” she writes, “a number of companies continue to invest in the “traditional” media of print to reach their customers.” While print distribution isn’t utilized by many brands, CMI research shows that those marketers that do feel it is the most important part of their brand strategy.

McDermott showcases nine brands that utilize magazines, including TDAmeritrade, Harley Davidson, Walmart and Allianz SE.

Posted by Joel on June 24 2017 • Content Marketing

The Future of Media

imageTablet has an interesting story written by a “struggling writer” who attends a content marketing conference in Boston. “The future of media is here,” writes Sean Cooper, “and I was there.

“The S.W. is here because the roaring fire that was 20th-century nonfiction magazine literature has been hosed down to wet coals,” writes Cooper. “In this new 21st-century post-literature era, the techniques and tools of the journalism trade have been plundered by scavenger industries, which rightly foresaw profit opportunities in what has been called branded content, native advertising, or content marketing, which agglomerates techniques used to build characters, create narrative arcs, and establish tones of voice that once served as conduits for nonfiction writers attempting to intimately mind-meld with readers. While journalism continues to struggle, burgled storytelling devices are being leveraged at scale by content-marketing agencies and branding studios that publish content stories to satisfy shareholder expectations. One industry analysis estimates that the content-marketing business will be worth $215 billion in 2017. The Struggling Writer is here to see them count the money.”

Another interesting insight:

“In the absence of stories told by humans to communicate about being human, companies tell people stories about being consumers. Readers consume the information made available to them in this way because they are unable to turn off the human impulse to understand the world.”

And another:

“Being a journalist today requires the maintenance of an active presence on the same social-media platforms and search engines that took away all the advertising dollars that once supported journalism. Today, 80 percent of all new digital advertisements are booked through Facebook and Google. The journalists are curating their work on behalf of these stock-traded corporations that thrive by selling advertisements against work they have not commissioned. Everyone ultimately works for the social-media platforms.”

It’s certainly an interesting time for journalists who are making a transition from journalism toward ... something else.

Posted by Joel on May 20 2017 • Content Marketing

Learning to Tell Stories

image Branded content can take various forms. In this case the medium is actually a barn. When I took this photo earlier this fall, I wasn’t quite sure what it was but I loved the sentiment. Clear and eye-catching, the message finds its mark as drivers pass by along Interstate 35 just south of the Twin Cities. I finally learned more about it this week when a press release passed my desk about Culver’s campaign to thank farmers. Sure enough, big blue barns are part of the program. The food chain’s “commitment to the next generation runs deep,” says their campaign. They are also moving from “gratitude to full-fledged support” as they support the National FFA organization.

Another campaign came across my desk this week: Haagen Das and the Extraodinary Honey Bee. According to this story in Ad Week, the company has been working on the project for the past eight years. The virtual reality immersive video will tell the story from the bee’s perspective. It looks wonderful and it is scheduled to debut later this summer. They gave a sneak peek of their work at the recent Sundance Film Festival.

From Adweek: “We’re here at the Sundance Film Festival really learning to tell stories even better,” said Alex Placzek, director of marketing for Häagen-Dazs in the U.S. “At the core brands are basically a story so if you don’t tell a compelling and engaging story you’re basically a commodity. What we’re excited about is learning how to tell stories in a much more impactful way.”

Posted by Joel on January 28 2017 • Content Marketing

Brand Storytelling

I love this quote from Content Standard’s story: Why Brand Storytelling is the New Marketing: an Interview with Robert McKee:

“The way to persuade the buyer is to get their attention with a story, and that is very difficult in this day and age of distraction. Story is the most effective way to get attention because what attracts human attention is change. As long as things are moving on an even keel, you pay attention to whatever you’re doing. But if something around you changes—if the temperature around you changes, if the phone rings—that gets your attention. The way in which a story begins is a starting event that creates a moment of change. When someone is watching a story, something happens that turns the situation, usually to the negative. (It could be to the positive, but even if it turns to the positive, it’s going to become negative in a moment.)”

McKee on writing:

“There’s this whole world of study that [all people] have to accomplish. They have to have an author’s knowledge of the art form. That’s the hardest thing for them to get through their heads: here they are, at age 25, 30, and they thought they’d done all the schooling they needed to do. That they could just sit down and be a writer, a businessman, and that they didn’t have to start learning from the beginning.

“If this was music, and not story, you would have to master music theory. You’d have to master the form of it—whether it’s classical, jazz, or rock—musicians are technicians who know the structure of music. They recognize that there’s a technique—there’s a craft. It’s the same thing with writing, you have to be able to compose.”

One campaign that McKee highlights for doing it well is Dove. “It’s a perfect example of what a great marketing/storytelling campaign can be, but it begins with an insight into human nature. Without that substance, it doesn’t matter how skillful the storytelling may be.”

Posted by Joel on December 12 2016 • Content Marketing

Sharing Human Stories

I like this post at All Things IC. Rachel Miller shows how storytelling has affected three companies. In particular she highlights how sharing human stories at Nationwide UK led them to turn something as boring as pensions into an effecitve communication that led to more people signing up for greater contributions. By using an honest approach, with a bit of humor, the difference was huge, she writes. “It was just 10 percent of employees signed up to make additional contributions and now there are 83 percent of employees now paying in extra contributions to their pensions.”

Here is the video that made the difference:

Posted by Joel on June 16 2016 • Content Marketing

The Story of Content

Building brands is about telling stories. And the best story about telling stories is produced by the Content Marketing Institute. It’s called The Story of Content: Rise of the New Marketing. “To break through the clutter, brands need to tell remarkable stories that are worth listening to…and they are becoming the media in the process.”

Posted by Joel on May 09 2016 • Content Marketing

A Buyer Centric Content Strategy

image"Most marketers no longer need convincing that content marketing is the key strategy to engage customers,” writes Carlos Hidalgo in the October issue of Chief Content Officer. “But too many organizations try to juice returns by generating more content through more channels at faster speeds. Such an approach is doomed to fail.”

Why do they do it? It’s the technology, writes Hidalgo, and the increasing number of options: cloud-based platforms, dynamic web pages, a wealth of social media channels and countless other innovations aim to help marketers automate processes and scale their efforts. Just push another button, and better and better tools will make marketing magic happen.”

Hildalgo outlines a plan for developing a real buyer-centric content marketing strategy. I would recommend all marketers read his story. “The key question is not how fast, how easily or how much marketers are able to disseminate; instead, you must ask what kind of content will best connect your brand with your buyers and customers.”

Posted by Joel on October 06 2015 • Content Marketing