‘Content Marketing’ as a phrase has seen huge growth in usage over the last few years, and can be defined as:

“Creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract, engage and understand a target audience in order to gain business value.”

As one would expect, there are crowd of champions who see content marketing as the savior of all marketing woes, the naysayers who ensure everyone knows it’s an overhyped buzzword describing an approach that smart marketers have always taken, and then the majority of us who sit in the middle. But I’m not really referring to the trouble of content marketing as reinvention of existing methods, and I use the phrase a lot because it is starting to carry meaning (and there is no joy in being the one who constantly points out the semantic deficiency of the phrase whilst also trying to promote its benefits).

The problem with Content Marketing is that it’s not really about content, nor about marketing.


Its not really about content because content is a slop-bucket phrase, used to catch all the meanings various people want to throw at it. The word content adds little definition because there is almost nothing outside of the word that some people aren’t framing as content.

Lets look at some differentiations people are drawing with this part of the phrase.

  1. It is pull not push. Traditionally, marketing can be interruptive, but the beauty of content marketing is that it attracts, it spreads, and it gathers an audience from search and social media, without needing to push.
  2. It is serving not selling. Traditionally, marketing is often about the product and its features and benefits, but content marketing is meant to serve the needs and aspirations of the target audience, without a heavy sales push.
  3. Conversing not campaigning. Traditionally, marketing has been one-to-many, and although content marketing can be used as a broadcast messaging tool, it also allows individual responses and conversations to be built over the course of a relationship.

Content marketing is about pull not push, serving not selling, and conversing not campaigning.


And content marketing is certainly not just about marketing. That is the business function with the highest and quickest adoption of new approaches, but just as “social media” was in the marketing domain before it became used for product development, support, recruitment and much more, so content marketing is starting to prove value across business functions.

Throughout the entire customer lifecycle, people are engaged with content. The purpose and value of the content changes, but the value proposition of “attracting and engaging an audience through quality content to achieve a commercial objective” is very much the same. Entire businesses are being built around the point solutions that are required at each stage of customer engagement. And solutions are starting to be built that manage the entire customer/content experience across every touch-point.


Well, fundamentally, it’s a way of thinking. One that smart business people have used for a long time, but also one that has gained incredible power in the digitally-connected world, and therefore is seeing a huge spike in usage across industries and countries.

In your business, don’t limit it to blog posts for marketing purposes. Think how an engaged, informed, and inspired audience can change the way you operate in every part of the business, and start working to that goal. Yes, it requires workflows and calendars, and budget and resources, and measurement and optimization. But firstly it requires a company to genuinely understand that delivering compelling content to serve a customer need helps you attract, engage and understand your audience. And that leads to great business results.


If you want to make your content marketing measurable and start showing demonstrable ROI, start using Content Intelligence.