Yep, content’s hot, but where’s your strategy?

Content marketing is hot in Sweden these days. That’s not really surprising, considering the way that traditional advertising is failing. But as more companies embrace content as the best way of connecting with their customers, there is also an increasing realization that content has to be based on a strategy.

Back in May, a well-known executive from a leading Swedish media buyer caused a stir when he predicted that bought media (e.g advertising) would disappear from B2B within five years. Companies will turn instead, he said, to content that is relevant and valuable to their customers. Many working in traditional advertising tried to argue, as you would expect, but many more in the world of business communication agreed with him. As you can see from this chart of Google search interest, content marketing is all the rage in Sweden right now.

Google trend report – search interest. Search term: content marketing. Language: Swedish. Time frame: January 2010 – June 2013

A similar Google Trends check of searches for the term “content strategy” turns up empty. The results were too small to measure. It would seem that, at least for now, Sweden is preoccupied with content marketing

The dominance of content marketing stems largely from the number of people and companies practicing it. There has been a rush of agencies into this arena. Some come from custom publishing while others have digital web backgrounds. A third group has its roots in SEO, and finally there are of course traditional marketeers who have morphed into content marketing. This growing number of practitioners together with a global deluge of content about content marketing ensures a lot of attention.

Just because we’re excited about content marketing, it doesn’t mean that Sweden is not taking strategy seriously. But it’s more of a subset to content marketing than the other way around (like it should be). It’s also easier for both companies and agencies to go straight to the content creation phase and skip the hard questions like who the content is targeting, what the purpose is, and how results should be measured.

But this will change. More and more, realization is spreading that a clear strategy leads to content that is more efficient, of a higher quality and that generates better results. Interest in content strategy is picking up, and not just among companies who want to connect with their customers using relevant, useful content. A content strategy is just as important and valuable for a non-profit organization or a government agency. A clear plan for creating, publishing and handling content is just as important for internal communication as it is for external and marketing communication. These are all reasons that content marketing will be a subset of content strategy within just a few years.

Of course, I would say that. I’m biased. I’m convinced that taking the time and effort to come up with a content strategy will save you time and money down the road, and also ensure that the content you create really is useful, relevant and inspiring to your target group. That’s what I’m looking forward to discussing with you about in Helsinki on September 13.

I hope I will see you there!

This post originally appeared on the Content Strategy Forum 2013 blog in June, 2013

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