No product was ever more content marketed than content marketing itself. And it worked. Marketers are diving in.
But the ideas that spawned the discipline that created the movement also generated a pile-up of content marketing suppliers, and it’s still growing like topsy.
With supply evolving so rapidly, how are marketers to choose a content marketing partner?
That’s the million-dollar content marketing question.
First a little back-of-the-napkin math:
Econsultancy & Outbrain report that 90% of marketers believe content marketing will become more important this year. That equates to 24,555,812 marketers*.
Most will outsource work to a partner. Now, number out of the air, let’s say an average yearly spend is $50,000. That adds up to, approximately, a gazillion dollars of content marketing work. No wonder the content space is going bananas.
Just last year:
- The Association of Publishing Agencies rebranded as the Content Marketing Association.
- New software specific to content marketing boomed (Flockler, GatherContent, InboundWriter, Curata, etc).
- Both Econsultancy and CMI produced content marketing reports.
- Many new content marketing agencies sprang up (Quaturo, Considered Content and Crowdbait are just three UK examples).
- We even had time for a content marketing backlash, from the likes of Christopher Penn, Danny Brown and J. P. De Clerck.
2013’s likely to be just as lively on this front. The purists who debate whether outsourcing content marketing at all is advisable are becoming fewer and fewer; everyone else is headed to market for help with content marketing strategy, execution, analytics and management.
They’re wise to. Content marketing is very effective, but the talents are acquired, and absent from many organizations. And like sister discipline social media marketing, it’s labour-intensive. Great on-strategy eBooks, infographics and blog posts don’t make themselves.
And the content marketing supply side
Fortunately a whole ecosystem of suppliers is rising to the challenge. Today nary an agency, publisher or freelancer can be found without a service called content or inbound on its website.
I suspect marketers are of two minds in how to approach this market:
- “Hey, my existing agency/partner now does content marketing too. Let’s do this thing!”
- “This content marketing thing requires a rethink. What are my options?”
As everyone on the supply side of content marketing services scrambles for that gazillion dollars, they’re determined to influence how marketers make their choices.
The video production companies are writing thought leadership articles about the value of video in content marketing. Infographics specialists, on infographics. Bloggers, on great blog posts. You know the drill.
Some of this content from content marketing specialists is really to the benefit of the companies and marketing managers who want to do content marketing, and do it right. But it’s still just content. There’s a significant distance between learning some principles and techniques, and applying them well.
Great execution of content marketing (from strategy soup to tone of voice nuts) is something that just about every organization is going to grope towards, learning one lesson after another, with varying degrees of pain.
Some truly critical skills will only come from experience. For example, no thought leader can answer these questions for you out of a box:
- How do the different flavors of content marketing strategy, from one partner to the next, taste different?
- What partner’s going to give me the most bang for my buck in a given range of executions (video, eBook, white paper, podcast, etc.)?
- What does good look like for our company? Is our content marketing success of the minor, or major, kind?
Would that they could.
There is no IBM of content marketing partners (so safe that you can’t be fired for choosing them). There is no Google with 90% market share.
There is only a vast and growing field of practitioners each with a mixed bag of tricks and talents, a unique take on how content marketing works best and lots of experience or little. LUMAscape, eat your heart out.
Working the Content Marketing Spectrum
It’s with humility at the scale of the task that we tried to create an infographic that helps marketers approach the content market.
As one of the hues in the spectrum of content marketing partners, we feel we’re best served when clients make good decisions, decisions that fit their circumstances and when their expectations are most likely to be fulfilled.
The price ranges are rough estimates, the lists the most comprehensive available and the archetypes drawn from experience. It’s a tool. Use it, and hopefully, you’ll profit by it, and by content marketing (sooner rather than later).
We’re eager to provide as accurate a “spectrum” as we can over time. If you want to provide structured feedback (to price, or experience), use our little Google Form. If you want to provide unstructured feedback, then comment.
* So that’s a total BS number, but it’s probably just as good a guess as yours.