Content marketing is always changing, always evolving. That’s what’s so exciting about it; that’s what’s so challenging about it; and, at times, that’s what’s so maddening about it.
Consider some of today’s top content marketing trends and headlines, then think back to what the big stories were five years ago. SEO was a wildly different beast. There was less talk about video marketing. Some of today’s most significant social media platforms didn’t even exist.
Because things change so quickly, and often so dramatically, content marketers can feel like their entire job is trend-chasing — keeping up with what’s new, what’s breaking.
There’s certainly a need for that. But what if it’s detracting our attention from the basics? What if the pursuit of the new actually dulls our understanding of the fundamentals?
Sometimes the Best Content isn’t Flashy
There is still room in this business for content that informs and educates in a way that isn’t particularly groundbreaking or flashy.
Say you’re doing the marketing for a new app, a kitchen appliance or a weed eater. People are going to feel more confident buying the product if they’re thoroughly versed in how to use it. Access to an FAQ, product demo or "how-to" guide could be the thing needed to push them over the edge and encourage them to take the plunge and purchase the product.
A how-to guide is not very exciting, quite frankly. And an FAQ page is nothing new. Nothing about it qualifies as trendy, and you’re not going to hear much about it from content marketing blogs.
But these forms of content, blasé though they may be, have not fallen out of use, even if they’ve fallen out of fashion. People still read content that offers basic, no-nonsense answers. They still seek it out on Google. It still makes an impact.
Focusing on Practicality
That’s not to say that thinking about today’s content marketing trends doesn’t have a place; great content is nothing if it’s not distributed in a way that gets it seen by readers. The problem comes when that becomes the be-all and end-all — and content becomes so flashy, so trendy that it loses its practical edge (and, thus, its shelf life).
Here’s something not a lot of content marketers are willing to say: Press releases still have value. They’ve lost their status as effective SEO gimmicks, and thus the trendsetters have passed them over. If you want to connect a product or company to the media, or simply to spread the word about some real news, though, a press release is the way to do it. It couldn’t be more boring or more old-fashioned, but it does still work when you do it right.
It’s probably a little bit naïve to say that content marketing is all about helping and informing people — but in a very real sense, helping and informing resonates with people, and gives a piece of content its impact and its longevity. That’s what’s fundamental to this line of work, and it’s important that we hang onto that.