Back in 1999 I got a job whilst in the last few months of college. I didn’t think it would be a permanent thing, just something to tide me over and to start making a dent in the vast student loans I’d accumulated.Back then REDWOOD PUBLISHING, founded by Publishing and Marketing genius Mike Potter, was a ‘contract publishing house’, specialising in creating customer magazines for the array of blue chip clients on the books. I started out working on the VOLVO account, our editor was an extremely accomplished ‘petrol-head’ journo who had previously launched TOP GEAR and his energy, enthusiasm and dedication rubbed off on us all. We, as a team, grew incredibly passionate about the brand – We loved VOLVO.IMAGE: Volvo Love by XpiecemealXBack then contract publishing was the craft of writing engaging features relating to a niche or sector whilst cleverly promoting a brand. By using skilled journalists as sector experts, the customer communications delivered by the brand was actually credible. Suddenly there was more substance to a marketing campaign, customers didn’t feel they were being directly sold to by ad agencies through a whimsical 30 second ad.The content was compelling, believable and original and readers were encouraged to engage with features which were entertaining and informative.Now, nearly 15 years later, Mike Potter has sold up and moved to Barbados, Redwood is no longer a sole player and contract publishing has evolved from a *£200m industry in 1999 to what is described today as **’owned media’, and worth in excess of £4 billion!The traditional contract publishing agencies are being forced to branch out and specialise in branded content across all mediums. No longer are they competing against other publishers – key players come in all forms from digital agencies to social media strategists to PR’s, ad agencies and marketeers. It seems these days everyone can write branded content, the art and skill the early adopters invested in back in the day has been heavily diluted and although only very few do it well the sector continues to thrive with ***70% of UK marketeers using content marketing.****Content Marketing is described in WIKIPEDIA as a marketing format that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire customers. This information can be presented in a variety of formats, including news, video, white papers, e-books, infographics case studies, how-to guides, question and answer articles, photos, etcUnlike traditional advertising, content marketing is focused not on selling, but on simply communicating with customers and prospects. The idea is to inspire business and loyalty from buyers by delivering “consistent, ongoing valuable information.” On the web, content marketing is “simply using content — news, feature, or otherwise — to commercial advantage.According to y2m, content marketing is utilized by ad agencies to improve brand awareness and later customer acquisition.Today, despite budget cuts, recessions and global issues the industry continues to thrive with new clients joining daily. Tried, tested and proven the power of branded content is unrivalled in terms of growing loyalty, reducing churn and acquiring new customers.But only if it is done well and by the experts!
Source: *APA Member Survey/Mintel Research Consultancy 2008 & **Seven/YouGov ISBA 2013 ***State of the nation CMA/TNS 2013 ****Wikipedia