Content marketing: Telling Meaningful Stories

Maybe the term “content marketing” needs to go and be changed to … 

Christoph

March 11, 2017

Words

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Content communications OR content connecting OR something else?

But let’s back up a bit and let me tell the story from the beginning:

The other day I posted to several social media networks that I was quitting content marketing. That of course prompted a number of people to message and text asking if I had quit my job and was announcing it on social media.

After all I practice content marketing and authentic storytelling in all of my projects. One person was actually working on writing a LinkedIn recommendation for me and asked if they should focus on something else since I was quitting content marketing.

Of course I didn’t quit anything and I’m continuing to teach and implement what we might call content marketing storytelling.

But a few days before the social media post I was chatting with a couple of people on unrelated occasions  who mentioned that what I call content marketing actually aligns just as closely to communications principles.

So whether it’s marketing or communications or if that’s actually different departments of course depends on organizations and their size. But it got me thinking is authentic storytelling closer to marketing or closer to communications? Or maybe I’m filing 1,100 words on something that’s not even worth discussing?

Should I be calling it content communication? Or maybe story communications. Or maybe relevance-based marketing or relevance-based communications.

If you have a better idea send it to me here:

Maybe ultimately it doesn’t make any difference whether we call it marketing or communications but these are different yet related disciplines. They have different goals and they have related but different skill sets and they also have different workflows.

Of course it can get much more complicated if we also toss in a different department for public relations and others, but let’s not overcomplicate thing to you anymore.

Of course, from a branding perspective calling myself a content marketer does help because a lot of people now know what content marketing is. So if I were to rebrand that terminology as the content communicator or something to that affect how many people would actually understand what that means? Maybe it would take a few years to take off or maybe it would serve as a differentiator since it’s different 

I’m also thinking of the term blog in this concept.  Blogging works when done correctly and uniquely. In fact storytelling only works when it’s done uniquely because copying other people’s stuff will not help anybody set themselves apart. But some people don’t like the term blog. I honestly don’t like it either so, let’s just call it something else. Call it your website or your story hub or your insight section or whatever. 

It  doesn’t make any difference what you call it but it’s still the same concept: creating unique content that people actually can use and find helpful and sometimes inspiring. 

And marketing our content of course is important because as we know if nobody reads or finds  our content it’s not nearly or at all as effective as it could be. So the distribution  (a.k.a. the marketing) is important.

But maybe we can make our content marketing content even better if we take a slice from the communications people.

Related: The new role of content marketing journalist

Communications people are more and more tasked with driving  website traffic and building that online audience. Marketing people are more tasked with hot leads that can be turned over to sales. And while both of those are extremely important for organizations for content  marketing to actually lead to sales you first have to create a relatively big relevant audience before those hot leads come in. 

So even though CEOs and other executives often demand immediate results it’s extremely hard and gets harder the longer organizations wait to start for content marketing strategies to actually generate those  business results.

But they can generate immediate communication results. Communication results are a little bit  softer – for lack of a better term – but super  relevant and helpful. In fact, good communication strategies can accelerate or hold back an organization’s  growth.

I don’t know that we need to go and burn  all of our content marketing trifold brochures today but remember there used to be a time when we didn’t call any of this content marketing. But yet it might be OK to re-think and also realign our strategies as we move along.

So while there’s no doubt that I will continue to train and implement authentic storytelling content marketing strategies it also can be helpful to take lessons from slightly related and even unrelated disciplines.

Because one thing is for sure, the ways to reach audiences and keep them change and we need to continuously adjust our strategies to do that.

It’s all part of content marketing, content  communications and of course growth hacking. That’s another term I did not like for quite a while but to make content communications work we do have to have some growth hacking strategies that get implemented, because growth hacking means that we always are  looking to grow our audiences and businesses.

If we don’t like the term content communicator maybe another option could be content connector. Basically what that would mean is that we create content to connect consumers or business people – in the case of B2B marketing – to our organizations.

What I like about the term content  connector is that it just assumes  a mutually beneficial relationship.

Related: How to find your organization’s zone of mutually relevant content

 Some of the most successful digital strategies and also offline strategies that I have seen keep in mind that only mutually relevant relationships are sustainable over the long term. So if I’m a content connector and connect businesses with their customers through relevant and unique content that can be a highly and sustainable win-win situation for the long term.

So even if we are not quitting using the term content marketing anytime soon, let’s at least keep in mind to keep our content relevant and useful to our audience. 

Be a good communicator and connector and of course marketer to reach the right people at the right time when it’s most relevant to all involved.


Christoph

Christoph blogs on The Authentic Storytelling Project and is a globally recognized content marketing expert. The IMA named him Internet Marketer of the Year in 2015. He works with healthcare organizations and other brands around the globe.

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