December 21, 2012: On this “cold, bleak, biting” December morning, it’s easy to recall the Christmases of my youth. As a kid, I got all dressed up and went to see the local theater’s production of “A Christmas Carol” every year with my family. It didn’t matter how many times we went; somehow, seeing Tiny Tim hoisted over his father’s shoulders or old, crotchety Scrooge sitting by the fire in his night shirt and matching sleeping cap seemed, each year, like a new experience. Charles Dickens’ lovable novella was, for my family, a way to celebrate the new year by bringing with us an annual tradition from Christmases past.
As content marketers, there’s something to be said for infusing your writing with nostalgia. After all, what better way to think ahead to the future than to connect with your readers in a way that withstands the test of time? In this post, we’ll take you through the ghosts of content marketing past, present, and future to reflect on the evolution of content marketing a la Charles Dickens.
Ghost of Content Marketing Past
Content marketing is not a new concept; brands have been telling their story for centuries. In 1895, John Deere launched its customer magazine, The Furrow, which today has a 1.5 million circulation in 40 countries and 12 languages. In 1904, Jell-O distributed free copies of a recipe book that contributed to the company reaching $1 million in sales by 1906. In 1982, Hasbro partnered with Marvel to introduce the GI Joe Action Soldier, which eventually led to comic books, video games, and even an animated television miniseries.
You get the idea. Content marketing dates back to before digital marketing ever had a place in overall marketing strategy.
What can we learn from the Ghost of Content Marketing Past? Find your story, tell it well, and watch your business grow. Copyblogger sums it up nicely: “Content marketing is everywhere you look, or listen.” So keep your eyes and ears open.
Ghost of Content Marketing Present
These days, it’s out with the old (radio, newspaper, magazine), in with the new (smartphone, laptop/PC, tablet, television). In fact, this year 90 percent of our daily media interactions are screen based. “Content marketing reached a tipping point in 2012. While B2B and B2C marketers have used content marketing for years, it became the must-have element of every 2012 marketing plan, driven by the exponential growth of social media and the disruption of search rankings by Google Penguin and Google Panda,” writes Content Marketing Institute’s Heidi Cohen.
But it isn’t just that marketers are taking advantage of the new technologies available to them; the evolving digital landscape is changing the way we not only consume, but write, marketing content. Twitter, for example, forces marketing writers to spruce up their writing and editing skills by virtue of the limited space—140 characters—provided to get a message across.
What can we learn from the Ghost of Content Marketing Present? Brandpoint’s “2012 Digital Content Marketing Survey” reports 99 percent of survey respondents used at least one form of content marketing in the year 2012, including social media, blogging, video, images and infographics, and mobile content. If one thing’s clear, it’s that change in the digital space is a constant.
Ghost of Content Marketing Future
Content has reigned as King for some time now, but many are predicting 2013 is likely to be an even bigger year for content. So what are some of the major shifts to watch for in the coming year?
Business2Community predicts mobile marketing will surge full-speed ahead in the year 2013. “In North America, 2013 shall mark the first time that online access is greater from mobile devices than laptop or desktop,” writes Frederic Gonzalo in a list of 13 Marketing Trends for 2013. Among that list is also putting in place a strategic, rather than tactical, social media plan, making certain to access priorities and objectives for Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Pinterest.
“Adaptive, smart content makes sure your campaigns are optimized for each platform,” according to Social Media Today. In other words, growth for content marketing seems assured in the year to come, so be sure you’re evolving with the changes and adapting strategies accordingly.
What can we learn from the Ghost of Content Marketing Future? Well, that remains to be seen! But, if prior years have taught us anything, it’s that content marketing’s star has risen—and will likely continue to rise.
If Ebenezer Scrooge can leave behind his “Bah humbugs!” and awaken on Christmas morning with joy and love in his heart, then we as marketers can certainly learn a thing or two from content marketing’s past, present, and future. Do you have any additional insights to share about the history of content marketing or the direction of the future? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.