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2012: The Year of Content Marketing?

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In case you haven’t noticed, there has been a great deal of buzz around the topic of content marketing lately. Just before the new year, a Content Marketing Institute study showed that marketers are becoming significantly more confident in the effectiveness of content marketing, and that 60% plan to increase their content marketing spend in 2012. In January, The Post Tribune wrote that the trend among B2B marketers in 2012 is “to dedicate a quarter of their total marketing budgets to content marketing activities.” Just last week, BtoB Magazine’s Steve Callahan declared that content is becoming vital in B2B marketing. With all this positive news, people have been quick to deem 2012 “the year of content marketing,” and they just might be right.

However, we need to be clear on one thing: content marketing is not a brand new concept. In fact, most B2B marketers have been participating in some sort of content marketing activity (think white papers, case studies and newsletters) for years. What has changed is that a strategic approach to content is now being taken by organizations. This has become a necessity in light of the ways the Internet (e.g, social media, nurture marketing, etc.) is revolutionizing content marketing. In 2012, we think the full potential of content marketing might be realized by many forward looking  B2B marketers. Here are three reasons why:

  1. The internet makes new types of content possible. In the past, marketers worked with a small and fairly standard set of content marketing tools. Things like case studies, white papers, and print newsletters were popular, and they still are. But now, the content marketer has a whole new set of tools at his fingertips, from blog posts, to social media channels, to webinars and podcasts.  Some of these content tools and types have been around for a few years, but most B2B marketers were not early adopters. Many B2B marketers are just beginning to fully embrace the power of new content types.
  2. Social media allows content to be distributed and shared on a much larger scale. In the past, when you put out a content marketing piece, you usually had a pretty good idea of who you would reach. Your white paper might be sent to your list of qualified sales leads, while your newsletter might be sent to existing customers. Now, thanks to social media, your content can reach people across the world with the click of a button. Your blog post, tweet or webinar invitation could be discovered by just about anyone with an interest in your field. If someone appreciates your content and wants to share it, they can do so instantly. Thanks to the internet and social media, we now have more avenues for reaching more people with our content than ever before, and marketers are taking notice.
  3. New content types are budget-friendly.  Make no mistake, content marketing is still a big investment in terms of time and effort. However, in comparison to traditional content, the new content types that have been made possible by the Internet are often less expensive to produce. Costs can be cut when things like printing and postage are eliminated. Shorter content is also more acceptable in social media, so content development may be less time-intensive for some new content types. This fact alone will drive many smaller B2B companies with small marketing budgets to jump into content marketing.

What do you think? Will 2012 be the year of content?

image credit: MSLK Reactions.

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