Is content marketing a discipline in danger?

Content marketing is going to disappear in the next few years. Sure, content marketing spend is rising, and specialists are in demand, but it's under attack. Here's why and some ways professional content marketers are heading off danger.

Marketers aren't on the same page. 

Content marketing has become a catch-all term for quite different activities. That's because content is now a synonym for copy, pictures, graphics, video and other visual material. When content is used to promote a brand, product or service, the promotional asset is elevated to content marketing. The people who make these assets? Content creators, of course.

High-profile figures have rejected content marketing as a niche discipline because it uses content (i.e. copy, video, graphics, etc.) to grow revenue. If it walks and talks like marketing, it's marketing.

And many of their industry colleagues don't understand that content marketing is an established discipline. They hijack the term and apply it to, well, not content marketing. This has blurred the boundaries of content marketing into oblivion. This is reflected in the SemRush's content marketing trend report for 2022.

It describes a 22% increase in searches for 'What is content marketing' in 2021 and fewer than half of survey respondents taking steps to implement a content marketing strategy. No expertise? No strategy? No problem, apparently, with 97% of respondents claiming content marketing was a tactic in their overarching plans. 

Of course, it is a problem when only 19% of respondents said their efforts were very successful. 

Specialists are fighting back. 

Professional content marketers are making solid claims about what their discipline is, what it's not and why it's the future of marketing

That doesn't mean they make the same claims. Some evangelists exclude assets a lot of content marketers hang their hats on. Promoting assets is commonly considered part of the content marketer's responsibility but not always. Social media posts qualify as content marketing for only some folks. 

Winnowing the discipline from others has created some uncomfortable discussions. The swirling debate around content writers versus copywriters is a good example. Similarly, many marketers call the creative and subject experts they hire to deliver promotional assets content creators. But some content marketers call themselves content creators.

Nuances aside, there is general agreement that content marketing is brand promotion that delivers information, inspiration or help in ways that target users value

Read that last bit again, the bit about value. That's often lost, but it's what content marketers aim to do with the stuff they make.

There was a time when we all defined content as stuff that held value for its intended audience. It was the course content of that gender studies class that changed your life. The content of the conference program justified a week away from the new puppy. When you published that research paper, the content inspired a life-saving breakthrough.

The companies measurably benefitting from strategic content marketing still think of content this way. The really good ones are innovating to win attention in new and better ways with value-rich content. 

Where do you want to take the discipline?

Content marketing isn't going anywhere. It's increasingly important to brands who understand that acquiring and retaining customers isn't what it was. They are investing accordingly, making content marketing the most exciting place to be in the profession. 

If this is where you want to take your career, join my 12-week online course Content Marketing at Berghs. You'll deep dive into the mechanics of content marketing through interactive seminars, challenging practical exercises, and lively collaborations. By experiencing the creative and scientific demands of the discipline, you'll build a toolbox you can rely on no matter how the discipline evolves.

Amanda Monfrooe
Content strategist, copywriter and editor