Where sales pitches are not welcomed

Content marketing – the convergence of media and technology – has grown so big so fast that it’s having a crisis of conscience.

“It’s outstripped any guidelines or definitions – and as such risks descending into a sort of perilous nonstate, where unscrupulous hucksters and bad actors take control and ruin the fun for everyone,” Sam Slaughter, the Vice President of media marketing company Contently (contently.com), blogged recently for Adweek.

Slaughter says the term “content marketing” has such a stigma around Contently’s office that anyone who uses the term has to plunk a contribution into the swear jar.
“It insinuates that the content exists to sell you a product, when in reality great content exists to tell a story.”

When brands make the decision to use content, they need to forget about being marketers and worry about being publishers. “A great story told on behalf of a brand isn’t really any different than a story told on behalf of anyone. It has a beginning, a middle and an end,” Slaughter states. “In the end, the brands that tell consistent, compelling stories about themselves and their products are the ones that build real brand affinity and equity with their customers.

“Are we about creating content to check that box on our media plans, or are we going to thoughtfully invest the time and energy to craft compelling narratives for brands that are desperate to reach clients in an increasingly fragmented and disrupted media landscape? How we navigate these murky waters could be the difference between brand publishing being seen as a real trump card in the marketing deck of cards, or the joker, which has no real value and is quickly lost in the shuffle.”  

Sales & Marketing Management will explore the state of content marketing in an in-depth feature in its January/February 2014 issue.