It may not have escaped your notice that a digital transformation is sweeping through the publishing world, and content marketing will also have to evolve to keep pace. It does not feel that long ago since we were working solely on print magazines in the cosy world of customer publishing.
Suddenly, it is all about content marketing agencies shaping effective multi-platform content. Anyone familiar with Stephen Hall’s excellent novel The Raw Shark Texts might wonder whether we have all been exposed to one of Dr Trey Fidorus’s language viruses, so quickly have the phrases ‘content marketing’ and ‘native advertising’ become popular buzzwords.
But what is really new? Catchphrases come and go with a frequency that suggests that Hall’s Dr Fidorus has an entire team focused solely on marketing. But underneath this apparent change, the fundamentals of telling a good story in a way that engages readers and customers remain the same. Good editorial boils down to five rules.
As simple as these rules sound, the problem is that they represent an entire cupboard of plates that must be kept spinning. Luckily, help is at hand. The arrival of online content creation marketplaces means the digital world is finding solutions to some of these issues.
There is a new breed of online marketplace that allows brand owners to commission content directly from creatives, whether for a new marketing campaign, a blog post or a newsletter.
At this point I must declare my interest – an interest called Content Cloud. Other content marketplaces are available, although the quality varies and it is worth checking that the one you are considering exhibits certain key traits.
First, its markets for talent should be deep and well vetted; any client from a charity to a bank should feel confident in being able to commission work from an experienced creative.
Second, these services must offer both time and cost savings to clients and be simple to use and cheaper than the cost of hiring a dedicated agency, at least for simple content-creation projects.
Conversely, the talent, from editors and writers to illustrators, photographers and speakers, must see an upside from the service. For freelancers, this might be predictability of work as much as price. Most systems are free for creatives although not all offer an automated, transparent and prompt payment system.
Third, these services should provide measures of success. It should come as no surprise that the quantitative element here refers to digital. To be able to see the impact of an online feature or the ripple of an article through Twitter is as important as seeing whether a piece of editorial has been plagiarised.
That’s the drum banging over. For those still with me, what does this all mean for the future of content?
There is often a simple way and a complicated way to do things. Occasionally, a service arrives – usually driven by technology – that makes it clear which way is the simple way.
When it comes to commissioning, creating, managing and analysing content that meets the demands of brand owners and customers, there is now a simpler, cheaper way open to all.
The arrival of content marketplaces such as Content Cloud should see a levelling of the playing field, opening up content marketing for businesses and brands of all sizes. It is an exciting time for us all.
Dan Davey is MD at Progressive Customer Publishing and Content Cloud