"Content marketing is a meaningless term made up to add gravitas to mundane marketing activities."
So says Mark Ritson (using slightly more colourful language), the entertaining Marketing Week columnist and professor, quoting Bob Hoffman, another excellent marketing commentator.
"Curation" (using other people's content - hello Passle), "core assets" (content) and "intelligent content" (really good or rich content) all come under his critical spotlight.
He has a point - content marketing is nothing new. Professional services firms have been doing it for 20 years and longer. Consumer brands - the soap operas for example - have been doing it even longer.
But is the swipe justified? I don't think so. Content marketing may be as old as marketing itself, but give it a name, add in some whizzy job titles and brand owners begin to take it a little more seriously.
But, and as with all marketing communications activity, use sparingly and think about what you say.
Create too much and people simple won't read and engage. Likewise, if you fail to understand your audience.
Call it what you will, but do treat the "mundane" seriously.
It’s not that I don’t see the value of what content marketing does. I just don’t see how it’s any different from what we were already doing. Even content marketers cite examples from 1895 (John Deer’s customer magazine) and P&G inventing the soap opera in the 1930s as examples of early content marketing innovations. Both are amazing marketing tactics but I see them as examples of direct mail and nascent advertising respectively, not something in need of a new name. It doesn’t help that all the definitions of content marketing I read just seem to describe marketing communications. Or that all the concepts associated with content marketing like “curation” (using other people’s content), “core assets” (the content) and “intelligent content” (really rich content) all seem to be blindingly obvious and kind of, well, made up by a teenager.