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So, the long-awaited CMI inaugural report on Australian Content Marketing was published last week. In another first for the local market (Content Marketing World – the first dedicated content marketing event in Australia is on this week as well), we get a glimpse into the thoughts and habits of some of Australia’s marketers when it comes to content marketing.

I don’t think people will be surprised by the prevalence of content marketing in one form or another across the marketing landscape. Content marketing is used by 96% of respondents, yet only 29% said their content was effective. Despite this, 65% said they planned to spend more money on content. Have we all got rocks in our heads? Why spend more if the perception is that it’s not working?

Why are they planning to add more content to the already overloaded Internet when they don’t trust that it’s going to be effective? Is it blind optimism because they have read so much about content marketing in the last 24 months that they now think it’s a must-do? Or is it insecurity and a fear of being left behind?

Either way, they are not alone. Across the board, regardless of the industry operated in or the scale of business, marketers are creating more content and pushing it out through more channels with the intention of achieving an ROI.

My only hope is that now we see this blind optimism in black and white, marketers will take a step back and put some strategy in place.

I’ve seen so many good communication plans, marketing plans, media or PR plans in place over the years, but I have yet to see this strategic thinking being broadly adopted when it comes to content marketing. I’ve yet to walk into a company and get a positive response and be wowed when I ask where the content marketing strategy is.

I’ve seen shallow attempts to create a strategic proposition using content but never the well-researched insights and outcome-driven, deep long-term plans to own customer engagement in their segment using content.

If we want to see results, we need to invest in a content marketing strategy, or risk following the crowds and – frankly – being stupid. It’s not rocket science and many of the disciplines used across the rest of the marketing mix apply, but there’s no avoiding it – it’s the essential platform for your content to be effective.

Richard Parker, Edge’s Head of Strategy, is not stupid and runs content marketing strategy courses on behalf of ADMA in both Sydney and Melbourne. Courses will be running in the coming months, so check out the training section of ADMA’s site.

Cover image courtesy of Website Monitoring’s flickr photo stream