Content Marketing wants to do everything – can that be good?

A newcomer comes into the class, and since all the rows of chairs are already occupied, he lays across the lap of his new classmates. They do not prostrate until they realize that the newcomer has something and that the teachers are well received, they all want to be like him. They dress like that, work like him and occasionally indulge him. He himself occasionally claims that he does not need the others and that he alone can fill all chairs. The mood in the class is not good.

Since the new “Content Marketing” stirs up the class of communication disciplines, there is bickering. No wonder if one lays across the chairs. But of course, the metaphor is imperfect. Basically, content marketing is a communication strategy approach that puts the customer benefit in the communication itself in the foreground. Otherwise, he uses the complete instrumental skills of the existing disciplines such as PR and corporate publishing. Together with the analysis possibilities of digital communication, this creates a kind of new “meta-discipline”, as Andreas Quinkert writes. I like the term paradigm but actually better, because of the distinction to the past in a different way of thinking.

Content marketing is integration. But the name is wrong.

For at least 20 years we have been talking about “integrated communication”, “convergence”, “360 degrees”. Now, finally, we have an approach that does what the others promised. However, he does so under a false name. Because the crucial thing is neither the content nor the marketing. Marketing is market-oriented business management. In our context, on the other hand, it is only about the instrumental level, the communication policy. The essence of content marketing is – in short – the customer value ( more detailed here ). So: the right approach, wrong name.

“Paradigm” is not the translation for “new hose”

Actually, nothing is really new about content marketing: I use existing communication disciplines and use them to create customer benefits. I can then transfer the contacts so gained to an inbound marketing process and generate leads in this way. But I can also leave it at the pure image work. That depends on the respective objective. But what quickly becomes clear: The whole project is complex and quickly very small parts. That means I need a clear strategy, a lot of instrumental know-how and good analytical skills. The interaction of all sub-disciplines is based on a common conceptual framework based on the idea of benefit-oriented communication.

If my communication strategy was created along such a framework. And if the communication work is done the inconsistent implementation of this strategy, then the result is content marketing. It makes no difference which medium and which channel is used. It also makes no difference if a PR agency is involved in order to sell the press release. I can also use a creative agency to develop suits for the brand. If the relevant communication module is the result of a content marketing process, then it creates customer benefit and creates a thematic connection to the actual product. And if the user voluntarily and consciously takes this content to heart, then it is content marketing. In this perspective, content marketing integrates the existing disciplines but does not replace them.

Hopefully, the market will not break content marketing

That’s the analytical perspective. But what about the market view? How do the rest of the classmates position themselves – as part of Content Marketing? Hardly likely. In a static world, it would be relatively easy: If I offered the integrated service, it would be called content marketing; if I offered a service, it would remain with “PR.” However, everything is on the move and the cases where it is done with a single discipline are becoming less and less. This means that more and more agencies of various origins are moving in the direction of meta disciplinary content marketing. They lose their profile in the market and their credibility – and thus suffers the profile of content marketing in the market. Content Marketing is then representative of communication.

Successful marketing in times of social media

Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, XING – and whatever they’re called – do we need it all? Is not there a new pig running through the village every week, is there a new buzzword? Social media, content marketing, performance management – do we marketers, we companies have to deal with these things?

“Success requires a deep integration of digital media into business processes.” Prof. Alexander Rossmann from Reutlingen University gives a clear answer to these questions. And his statement goes far beyond that companies should be active in social media. It is said that digital media must be part of the corporate strategy and of all internal and external processes.

The President of the German Marketing Association, Prof. dr. Ralf E. Strauß goes into the same nickname in the trade magazine “Absatzwirtschaft” (12/2014): “Seldom has the function of marketing been subject to so many changes. It’s not about constantly chasing after the latest buzzwords. Rather, it is about the systematic search for strategies and factors that help to realize success in digital business. ”

Oh, scary! What does that mean? Everything new, everything different? No certainly not. Much more should companies, marketers should remember a very classic property: listen! “Social media requires customer interaction,” says the article by Prof Strauß. In good Baden: “You have to chat with de Leut …” Because nothing else is the commitment of a company in social media: close, direct, unfiltered customer contact.

So, oh, oh horror? No again! After all, is not it the most important thing that we as a company know what our customers think about us, our products? What you really need, want, wish for? Aunt Emma still knew that. With social media, businesses can do it again today.

What is needed for successful social media channels in companies?

Point 1: a strategy. The most important questions for me are: What does my customer journey look like? What are my (product) messages? For whom are they relevant when? Which channels do I use to reach my customers and prospects? What is the feedback from customers on these channels?

Point 2: new structures. Strategy in times of social media is not a five-year plan. It is a process. Hierarchical structures are difficult. So we have to ask ourselves in the company, how can management, development, IT, marketing, sales, HR and service providers work together to achieve these goals or to always adapt them to customer requirements? “Customers do not take internal company structures into account. This requires efficient cross-departmental collaboration, “says David Schmidt, Head of Social Media at Telekom AG.

Point 3: a little bit of time. We all know that: In the hamster wheel of day-to-day business, there is seldom time to think about new ways. I had to learn: this is wrong! You have to take this time. And sometimes take external help. Professionals can inform us about the developments and possibilities of communication in a digital world. On this basis, it is possible to think about which of the upcoming communication tasks can be solved in-house and where external help is needed. Of course, time always means money in a company. But I think losing contact with customers is much more expensive.