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Why ‘home-cooked’ content will only get you so far

There’s been a lot of fuss and hype recently about content marketing, which I’ve been as guilty as most at propagating. The theory...

There’s been a lot of fuss and hype recently about content marketing, which I’ve been as guilty as most at propagating. The theory is that the power of Google and inbound marketing means ‘content is king’ and marketers and brands should ramp-up investment in content at the expense of other marketing activities.

As a result, B2B brands have invested in content as never before – as evidenced at the AOP B2B Conference 2013 (held in March in London) where senior marketers from HSBC, Microsoft, Caterpillar and Siemens waxed lyrical about content marketing in all forms. In the case of Siemens, it has recently hired journalists to bring content activities inhouse.

Whilst this is all very exciting for marketers, it’s potentially quite worrying for B2B media organisations (on or offline). The implication is that B2B brands no longer need publishing/media organisations to create content to reach their audiences – they are being 'disintermediated'.

Having survived the decimation of the media spend that followed the credit crunch, most media organisations have had to work hard to reinvent themselves and their business models, and content creation for brands has become a rich new seam of revenue. Now this seems to be under threat.

But what this ‘home-cooked’ content output lacks are the old-fashioned journalistic qualities such as integrity and objectivity. In other words, as we know, business decision makers are a cynical bunch, and will quickly see through material produced by brands that lacks balance and only conveys one point of view.

Consequently there will continue to be a role for B2B media organisations in content marketing activities, as they add gravitas that brands themselves lack. Marketers must remember this, particularly when pushing at the objectivity limits of media-generated commercial content. For publishers, the challenge in becoming a content marketing player requires a different mindset and a blurring of boundaries between editorial and advertising. It’s a delicate balance that publishers will have to strike to exploit this opportunity – if they get it wrong, they risk destroying either their commercial opportunities or their brand integrity, either of which could be fatal.