Like clockwork, we see a resurgence each year of “Top Predictions/Trends” lists designed to shake up every industry. These are promoted as the holy grail of readership from the months of October to December as organizations prepare for a new calendar year. The world of content marketing is no different; in fact, the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) got a head start with its list, which Founder Joe Pulizzi released last week. In it, he offers five major content marketing trends to watch for in 2018.

Whether these trends will indeed impact business, only time will tell. CMI’s list does offer some interesting glimpses into the future of content marketing and how brands can shape their strategies accordingly. Here’s what I took away from CMI’s list…

1. NEVER Stop Producing Original Content

Case in point: Apple (one of the most valuable and influential companies in the world) is planning to invest over $1 billion in original content. Much of this content is original TV programming, yet it sends the same message: original equals unique. It means innovative. Creative. Inventive. One-of-a-kind.

Reinventing the wheel isn’t easy. It’s not always fun reimagining customer engagement. But we must. We must continue to break barriers and push limits. It’s always worth it. The cheapest shot you can take is regurgitating the same information. With so much content in the world today, the single greatest brand differentiator is the ability to create content that people genuinely care about. This calls to mind one of my favorite quotes from Benjamin Franklin: “Either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing about.” It pays to be an OG.

2. STOP Making Content Marketing an Organizational Initiative

Allow me to explain. You may be one organization, but you have multiple lines of business supporting multiple products and services that cater to countless audiences. If you’re not building content marketing campaigns that target these audience groups within your enterprise, you’re falling behind. Pulizzi believes more organizations will be working to cater to these varying groups and monetize them in dozens of new ways.

It’ll be interesting to see how this one plays out, considering that the majority (55 percent) of companies currently have a small (or even one-person) content marketing team that serves the entire organization. Only 5 percent support each product/service line with its own content marketing team.

3. Content Marketing is NOT Advertising: Stop Treating It That Way

The fact of the matter is that you need to spend to see tangible ROI from content marketing (side note: top-performing companies spend about 40 percent of their overall marketing budget on content marketing). In many ways, it’s an all-or-nothing endeavor. Pulizzi writes of companies he’s met with that have doubled their budgeting for content creation and promotion, but only for short-term projects verses ongoing campaigns.

He sums it up best when writing: “Most brands still treat their content marketing like advertising. For content marketing to truly work, it must be differentiated and consistently produced over a long time (like media companies do). I’m afraid that most of these content marketing investments will go without bearing any fruit … and that’s why we still have a long way to go in our content marketing journey.”

4. CLEARLY Assign Content Marketing Ownership

Pulizzi writes of brands that have seen such outstanding results from content marketing that the entire marketing organization gets “content fever.” This is great, yet it can lead to problems. Pulizzi writes:

“The unexpected consequence is a turf war and a disjointed strategy. PR and communications have hired their own content team members separate from the company’s official content studio. Social media roles overlap, and everyone and no one is in charge of the content marketing strategy.”

Sound familiar? This is one of the top killers of marketing, argues Pulizzi. “Marketing leaders need to step up and give ownership to someone to lead the content strategy, which ultimately must be a mandate coming from the chief marketing officer (or higher).”

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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