Imagine you're at a local shopping center on a Saturday afternoon. I know it's not how you'd choose to spend any of your weekend,
but you need something.
You go into the first shop that sells what you're looking for and are immediately accosted by a salesman. This guy is in your
face—he's assumed you need what he's selling and he's selling it hard. He assails you with his whole features and benefits
pitch and, when you look less than interested, he goes heavy on the price. He sounds desperate, you leave.
When you walk in to the next store, the shop assistant offers a cheery welcome but lets you browse uninterrupted—a pleasant
contrast to next door. You think you've found what you want, but you have a question. You catch the assistant's eye and ask
if the thing you want is suitable for left-handed people. "Funny story about that… " she says and tells you the tale of a
customer who bought two of the items in question for his left-handed twin brothers. She's informative and entertaining. Guess
what? You've got your wallet out.
Welcome to content marketing
The biggest buzz in marketing today is a reaction to what some see as the failings of traditional advertising. With something
approaching a monopoly on customer attention, traditional media channels once had a tight control on the distribution of information
and associated marketing messages. Now, people have options.
Technology, from desktop computers to smartphones, has given everyone direct access to the information they need across a
huge and varied range of sources. This gives consumers the means to avoid the hard sell. "Consumers are in complete control
today," says Joe Pulizzi, author of "Epic Content Marketing" and founder of the Content Marketing Institute (CMI).
"Healthcare companies can position themselves as go-to informational sources by answering their customers' pain points," says
Pulizzi. But the best known content marketer on the planet says the only way to break through and get attention online is
to stop the sales pitches and tell interesting stories that customers will actually engage with.
Digital media means there are more ways to get your message in front of more people than ever before—the web, e-mail, social
media, games; they all deliver mind-boggling reach. According to global Internet analytics firm Comscore, there are 13.7 billion
searches conducted on Google every month. With 60 percent of US consumers saying they looked for health information online
in the last year, that's a lot of potential patients.
The problem is, that reach is available to everyone else, from the "Pharma 50" to your local plumber.
In 2010, Google CEO Eric Schmidt claimed that every two days we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization
until 2003. YouTube uploads, Facebook status updates, Tweets, Pins, and Instagram photographs. We're all publishers now.
But we're not all publishers, we're authors. Publishers have a baked-in quality control filter and would never allow most
of the so-called content that is out there on the Internet out of the slush pile. And it's the white noise of the virtual
slush pile that's fueling the flames of content marketing and its focus on creating and distributing relevant and valuable
content—content that cuts through the clutter.
One of the biggest drivers of the web-world's newly discovered penchant for quality is Google. The big-beast of online search
got sick and tired of people gaming its search algorithms with sub-standard content and changed the rules.
A Brief History of Content Marketing (Source: Content Marketing Institute)