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From content creators to culture of content – the evolution of B2B content marketing

It wasn’t very long ago that content marketing was still regarded with quite a lot of cynicism by many B2B marketers. It was, according to the cynics, just another flash-in-the-pan, here-today-gone-tomorrow marketing trend.

But the inexorable rise of content seems to have silenced those cynics, becoming widely regarded as a core part of B2B marketing. So much so, I was surprised to discover recently that the marketing team I presented to at BT Global Services was actually called the ‘content & marketing team’ – content had usurped marketing in team’s nomenclature. This is a small but symbolic change, as it defines how the team and its activities are understood internally.

BT Global Services may be the exception rather than the rule, but this instance suggests how relevance of content is evolving, and frames the content challenge for marketers in 2015. Simply understanding the potential of content as part of marketing, and regarding it as an important output, is not enough – B2B brands have to instil a culture of content.

It’s a nice phrase, but what exactly does it mean? Simply that brands must embed content as a discipline throughout their marketing department and (perhaps more importantly) wider organisation. Key personnel must be tasked with creating content as a core part of their remit in order to enable greater transparency and visibility for the organisation’s activities and expertise.

Failure to incorporate these individuals means content outputs may lack the integrity, credibility and nuances required to resonate with customers.

For the marketing team itself, a culture of content demands the development of core content skills, where the creation, development, deployment, analysis and recycling of content are a primary activity – not seen as a by-product or side-show of marketing activities.

A culture of content, where the role and relevance of content is understood across the organisation, is going to become an increasingly critical success factor for B2B brands. Appreciation of content marketing has come on a long way, but it needs to continue to evolve to retain competitive advantage.