Is content marketing the future of marketing?

However, hold on for just a minute. Before you switch careers and/or fire your content marketing team to replace them with copywriters and art directors who can make Super Bowl-worthy ads, you should know that the answer above is only a half-truth.

Here’s the full truth or what can be termed a more accurate response to the question – content marketing isn’t just the future of marketing. Saying that it is might imply that content marketing is still a young concept that’s struggling to get off the ground and into the strategy sessions of large, medium, and small organisations. This is far from the truth.

For starters, content marketing isn’t new, and it has been a thing since the 18th Century or 1732, to be precise. Furthermore, according to HubSpot, an impressive 82% of marketers actively used content marketing in 2021.

So, to reiterate, content marketing isn’t some concept that’s just getting off its feet and hopes to make an impact in the future. Instead, content marketing is the reality of marketing here and now! Rather than wait for a distant, unidentified future, content marketing is already changing how businesses and marketers approach their marketing strategies. In the future, it is only going to get bigger and better.

That largely answers the question. However, you would agree that it does very little to fully shed light on why and/or how content marketing is such a huge deal in today’s business ecosystem.

To understand/explain this better, it is important to discuss content marketing against the backdrop of its counterpart – traditional marketing.

Let’s take a quick breather, shall we? What is traditional marketing?

Put simply, nearly every type of marketing you see around you. It is what you see on television when an interesting (or cliché) commercial you didn’t ask for comes up.

Traditional advertising, more specifically, is the form of advertising that uses different parts of the mass media from billboards to television to radio and everything else in between to get potential customers’ attention.

One major distinctive factor about this type of marketing is that it searches for the customer. Depending on the type of buyer you are, the chances are that more than half of the advertisements you come across are absolutely none of your business. You do not need and would probably never need the products appearing on those pages or on that screen.

However, in the hopes that you might be the person they’re looking for, a marketer/advertiser puts the advert there regardless. You were on your own, and they came looking for you. That is the unique attribute of traditional advertising; it searches for its buyers.

With that factor established, and for the purpose of this conversation, allow us to expand the examples of traditional marketing beyond TV and radio. YouTube ads (and other forms of digital outbound marketing) also search for their customers. Despite being digital, many online adverts share this attribute with traditional marketing.

Content marketing, very much unlike traditional marketing, doesn’t seek out its customers. Instead, it draws potential customers to itself. This is possible in several ways, including blog posts, webinars, podcasts, videos, case studies, whitepapers, and everything else in between.

The chances are that you already know the finer details about the types of content that perform pretty well in generating results. Regardless, it is important to emphasise the primary distinction between traditional and content marketing. While the former find prospects, some of whom might not be interested, the latter draws in prospects instead.

It is less interruptive and much less likely to annoy because the audience went out in search of it by themselves more than half the time.

Before going ahead, it’s important to note that traditional marketing does have its advantages and benefits. If it didn’t, and it wasn’t efficient, it would’ve gone extinct several years ago. Business people are far too money-conscious to throw millions of dollars into a sinking or sunken ship. So, to avoid doubt, traditional marketing does have its days.

However, one of the primary flaws is that it can be incredibly interruptive, making it annoying for most of its viewers/readers. Picture this: You’re sitting on your couch, trying to enjoy the latest episode of your favourite sitcom or a football match. All of a sudden, an ad pops up, telling you to buy a bottle of Coca-Cola while you’re trying to cut down on your calorie intake.

Unless you’re still open to taking soda in the middle of your diet, the chances are that you’ll simply be counting the seconds until the ad is over. This is because you have no intention of purchasing the product or even consuming it. Unfortunately, traditional advertising doesn’t often care about this.

It doesn’t try to give you tips on balancing your calorie intake such that you don’t have to cut out soda entirely. It doesn’t tell you that quitting soda is a good idea for now if you’re trying to keep your weight in check. Traditional marketing simply tries to sell to you.

Unlike traditional marketing, content marketing tries to solve a customer’s problem first. It doesn’t impose. Instead, it creates valuable content that the audience would be interested in. Then, it positions that content strategically so that the audience can find it as soon as they want or need to.

Once readers/potential customers find the content, they can solve their problems. This happens while they’re simultaneously and gently nudged towards the originating company as the solution to their challenges.

As stated earlier, traditional marketing does have its days, and it can be incredibly rewarding in more ways than one, especially if marketers properly infuse it with excellent brand storytelling.

However, content marketing already does brand storytelling effortlessly and helps people solve their problems or find solutions. This makes it uniquely positioned as a valuable tool for brands and businesses not only in the future but in this very day and age. So, if you’re still wondering if content marketing is the future of marketing, the answer is simple. It isn’t just the future; it’s the current reality.

Oluwasegun is a content marketing specialist for B2B and SaaS companies with over three years of experience. When he’s not creating and implementing result-driven strategies for local and international brands, he’s writing about content marketing and its limitless possibilities.

Nigarai M Grusio

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