It seems to us that 2014 was the year that content marketing really took off. It grew up, went mainstream, and the content flow became a content flood. Brands big and small climbed on board the content marketing bus, and it was quite a journey.
Some of the content was staggeringly brilliant – imaginative, inspiring, and downright useful – and we got very overexcited about it (check out the Valuable Content Awards for the year). Businesses that got it right are flourishing. They’re the ones that created the great stuff and shared it in the right way; the ones who recognised that creating valuable content is only half the battle, it’s what you do with it that counts.
Some of it was ‘meh’, same old same old content churned out because ‘content marketing is a thing, right?’ No strategy, no purpose, and no love. Didn’t work in 2014, and it won’t work this year either.
So what is on the cards for 2015?
Here are the thoughts of a few people we respect – a mix of advisers and practitioners in the field of business development and content marketing, and a prediction from us too.
1. Resurgence of traditional marketing and big strides in audio
“It’s interesting…I think a number of business brands will move away from social media for organic content reach (as more are becoming pay-to-play). Oddly enough, we are seeing some larger brands look again at the print channel to garner attention, so I expect that to happen. In addition, the podcast explosion (again) is real, and audio should steadily grow with brands over the next few years.
In 2015, I see some brands becoming frustrated with their lack of success with content marketing, and look for more traditional marketing activities. At the same time, we will see some amazing cases from business brands who’ve been patient, consistent and targeted with their efforts.”
~ Joe Pulizzi, author of Epic Content Marketing, and founder of the Content Marketing Institute
2. More creativity and more humanness
“2014 brought us the concept of content shock – the idea that the web is flooded with so much content, that content marketing becomes an increasingly difficult, perhaps almost impossible task.
In 2015, the amount of online content will only increase further and more companies will be looking for new and creative ways to stand out. Copycat content will fail to make an impact and companies will start focusing more on creating original visuals and authentic voices. They’ll be humanizing their content to strengthen bonds with customers and fans.”
~ Henneke Duistermaat, irreverent copywriter and business writing coach, EnchantingMarketing.com
3. Trust creation in up markets
“At least in the US, the economy going into 2015 is showing signs of strengthening. Assuming (big assumption, I know) the same is true in the UK and Europe, then it’s worth remembering what happens to trust in up markets.
Trust becomes easier. Promises made are more easily kept; relationships broken are more easily replaced by others. Trust seems relatively risk-free. But up-markets also sow the seeds of down markets. Cons and hustlers thrive in good times, and come home to roost later. Promises easily made are hard kept in tough times.
Be mindful about whom you trust, and even more importantly, be very mindful about the people you ask to trust you. Invest in integrity and long-term behaviour. Cultivate virtues like transparency and collaboration while you can.
“Invest in integrity and long-term behaviour.”
The promises you make now, when it’s easy, will allow you to keep your relationships when they come due in the future, and others’ promises will be seen as cheaply and hastily made.”
~ Charles Green, Author and founder of Trusted Advisor Associates
4. Marketing and sales will converge
“Marketing and sales are converging in digital.
2015 will be the year marketers embrace their sales colleagues rather than fight them about leads.”
5. Content gets more interactive and intelligent
“This year, I expect to see:
- The rise of interactive content – that engages people and sucks data out of them (in a nice way)
- The beginnings of Intelligent Content – Joe Pulizzi of the CMI is calling this one and it does look intriguing: content that’s modular and repeatable and almost standardized for use across many channels at once. Spooky but I can see it finding its place. Wish it wasn’t called that though.
- LinkedIn gets really, really interesting for B2B marketers – It was always ‘really interesting’ but with the acquisition of Bizo, some cool stuff will be coming down the road very soon, meriting an extra ‘really’.
- A fantastic new book will come out by the folks at Valuable Content – just a hunch on this but watch this space.
- The blurring of the lines between marketing, sales and customer service – with each discipline doing more and more of the other two.
But don’t hold me to any of these.”
6. Digital reputation and the death of Facebook
“In 2015 having a great digital reputation is going to become even more important. Having a rich tapestry of films, conversations and articles across numerous platforms and publications will be essential to building a strong brand and for sales.
The key trick, however, will be sharing useful information and great entertainment that is not your own. Marketing teams have to become curators of interesting and intelligent content, so understanding your customers’ tastes will be vital. Harnessing the dark-sharing style of “saw this and thought you’d enjoy it” will be a killer skill. Very few will do it well, but those that do will be the year’s winners.”
“Saw this and thought of you will be a killer skill in 2015.”
“PS: Unless you’re a megabrand your Facebook page will become a ghost town. Facebook’s management have admitted that less than 10% of your followers will see your posts, so you might as well concentrate on generating and curating great content elsewhere. If your customers share your content on their Facebook timelines, it will still have huge amplification, but don’t look to your own page for traffic and conversations. The Facebook behemoth is only interested in your advertising spend now.”
~ Tim LeRoy, founder of DirtMeetsTheWater
7. Collaboration – the new ‘normal’
“Once upon a time in a land far, far away, the business world was all about ‘dog eat dog’, keeping your friends close but your enemies closer still, and for goodness sake, never, ever share precious knowledge with anyone other than customers paying you. The power was vested in the businesses with the expertise, and no one could get at the information or product, without entering into a purchase first.
Thankfully those days are gone, replaced by an environment that is much more inclusive, where power is shared, information seamlessly integrated and shared freely. Thanks to major technological advances and healthy competition, expertise is now available through the myriad of ‘channels’ that we use daily. We have GenY and Miss Google to thank for this. And it goes further than this, with organisations reaching out to competitors and agreeing (selectively) how to combine their expertise to grow their businesses.
I think we’ll see more and more businesses collaborating in 2015.”
~ Terri Lucas – Clients and Markets Director at Hymans Robertson & author of the Humans Buy Services blog
8. Companies on a mission will win
“In our crowded marketplace, quality content will always rise to the top of the pile, but in 2015 quality must go far beyond artful production. It’s not how you say it but what you have to say to the world that counts this year.
“It’s not how you say it but what you have to say to the world that counts in 2015.”
The people that will win our attention, trust and business this year use their content to communicate a bigger mission. They know what they stand for and their purpose in the world is abundant and clear. Think Finisterre and Hiut Denim over your average clothing company, Hubspot and Mailchimp over most other marketing automation, Chipotle and Innocent versus any other food and drinks company.
In 2015 the big winners will use their content to communicate a bold and important story, a mission that like-minded people will get behind and shout to the rooftops about on their behalf. Just watch.”
~ Sonja and Sharon
What a fascinating mix of opinions, some radical predictions and a few clear themes for 2015 – the convergence of sales and marketing, big changes in social media, smarter content marketing and a holler for more humanity and integrity in the business world. Many thanks to all our contributors – they do know.
How about you? When you look into your crystal ball what do you see for marketing this year? We’d love to hear your thoughts.
We hope you have a really successful year.