How I learned to move beyond content marketing

The last time the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) performed a temperature check in the UK they discovered that 85% of businesses use content marketing, with 45% saying that they have now established a dedicated content marketing team. And, while content marketing was found to account for an average of 26% of overall marketing spending, this figure is expected to climb in future years, with 64% of respondents saying that they will spend more this year.

I’ve been involved in marketing for over 12 years. While the term “content marketing” was coined in 1996, Benjamin Franklin’s yearly Poor Richard’s Almanac is considered by many to be the birth, in 1732! It shouldn’t surprise you to know that it’s simply a label and that in reality it’s been around a lot longer than we would imagine, because, at its heart, it’s storytelling. And storytelling has been around for all eternity. Nothing gets an audience inspired and engaged like a good story! However, to assume that content marketing is some kind of branding nirvana, yielding enormous money for a small commitment, would be a drastically misleading reality. Only 42% of individuals surveyed in the CMI research said that their organisation was ‘successful’ at content marketing, according to the findings. That’s no surprise to me.

At the heart of good content marketing is two things: 1) authenticity – be believable, be honest, and be highly specific about what, why, when, and who – if your audience feels you’re trying to sell to them without them trusting you, then it’s already over. And 2) targeting – the key to good content marketing is data. Data is the answer to questions like: Where are your customers? What are they doing? What inspires them? What are they clicking on, liking, sharing and following? Get the answer to these correct, and you get a return on your marketing spend.

I have worked with hundreds of businesses, and I’ve founded or acquired a number of my own. Over the years, I’ve come to understand all aspects of how they work, from staffing and product development to planning and processes, to sales and business development. I’ve learnt to spot the holes and the gaps and focus on areas that are lacking. I’ve spent a lot of time learning what works and what doesn’t. Most importantly I’ve learnt how content marketing is only a small piece of the puzzle, not a catch-all solution. If you don’t do it right, as part of a wider strategy, informed by data, and at the same time as examining all the other aspects of the business, then you’re doomed to fail.

My approach to these successes has been a 360 degree, holistic one. I take an in-depth look at all areas of a business, noting what’s working well, and what isn’t, and identifying areas of opportunity. It’s in the last one where a business can usually impact the P&L sheet the most – identifying new audience segments, establishing new processes, setting up new channels, whatever works for that individual case. Often, it’s to do with marketing but rarely is it about content without it involving deep changes in other areas. Talent is one of the biggest needs to grow a business in this way, resources (like supply lines, logistics, platforms, automation, financial or strategic advice, etc.) the another. However, most companies that show this kind of potential can’t achieve it on their own, otherwise, they would be halfway there already. And that’s where Eqvity can help – if you think that’s your business, and you’re looking for a financial or resource injection, apply here!

Bogdan Stevanovic