This blog in Marketing Week by Mark Ritson on content marketing caught my attention today because aside from the funny headline, the author makes some very valid points. He argues that whenever he looks at content marketing in any depth, he emerges feeling very old and cynical as there’s no substance to it as a discipline.

To a large extent he’s right, it is the latest big buzzword but we mustn’t get too caught up by the terminology. His observations are valid and they emphasise that the vast majority of content out there is what my lecturers at the IDM described as U-TOPIC (i.e. irrelevant because it’s just puff about the company no-body wants to read) and USELESS. However, there is also lot of really good content out there – I use it all the time for my work and in my daily life. A good example are all the fantastic yoga bloggers on YouTube. Thanks to their content marketing, it is possible to develop an amazing knowledge of postures and all round fitness without ever attending a local class.

Marketers and pr specialists need to put more emphasis on developing content that is USEFUL and ideally, facilitate opportunities for creating content that is USER GENERATED. Focus on this rather than get sucked into a hamster wheel of churning out large volumes of material that no-one is ever going to notice, let alone become engaged by. Blogs some of my clients publish in their newsletters are good examples. By sharing information for free online, they get a steady stream of inbound enquiries each month.

And as Mark highlights, content marketing is nothing new, especially in B2B industries. Neither is thought leadership marketing for that matter. It used to be called issues based PR and it’s really all to do with building trust in a brand. In seeking to educate and inform, a brand can potentially go beyond simply disseminating overtly promotional information and in doing so, can try to win the trust of consumers. Over time, they come to associate the brand with valuable information and so they are a natural consideration when drawing up a supplier shortlist.

So let’s not be sidetracked with terminology or buzz and just focus on the important bit, the audience, and being useful and helpful. If you question how to do that first and foremost, the content marketing strategy will fall into place very nicely.

Find out more about my content marketing and pr services for B2B clients in this case study.