I’m certain that you’ll be able to read a much more thought-out and comprehensive rundown of my entire CMH2015 experience on the SPROUT Content blog in a bit, but I’m actually sitting here in an empty meeting room during the lunch break on my first day and really felt the need to get this information out there.
First of all, the conference is just incredible. If you’ve ever wanted to go and weren’t sure if it was worth the ticket price, I can tell you firsthand, it’s worth it. The level of detail the CMI folks have brought to the preparations and the level of quality I’ve experienced in just the first few hours of the conference have already made up my mind on that account.
But, here’s the big shocker from today’s presentations so far: the leaders in my industry are nervous.
Joe Piluzzi spoke about the Trough of Disillusionment, which content marketing is now heading into. I can see this in my own experience, and it’s both scary and, strangely, exhilarating. Basically what it means is that the industry has matured to the point that all the initial rosey-eyed optimism and fun experimentation that has been a driving force in the widespread adoption and growth of content marketing has rightfully cooled off. At this point, as they should, customers are becoming more cynical and demanding in looking for true business outcomes.
To me, this is similar to what we saw happen with the infamous dot-com bubble in the mid 90’s: first, everyone was racing to get behind anything with a website attached to it. Then, after a few fun years and a few ridiculously rich 20-somethings came and went, the hype cooled and business-as-usual began to resume, with a completely new digital element that hadn’t existed before.
Now, as the business world has finished learning about and falling in love with content marketing, it’s swinging around to demanding honest to goodness results including trackable and predictable ROI.
As a result, Joe said, “there will be a lot of agencies who fail in the next few years.” But, there will be others that rise to the top and succeed like never before.
Later, Jay Baer built on this idea by describing how “competition commoditizes competency.” In other words, there are more than enough content marketers out there at this point, and they’re all learning the same tips, tricks, and best practices. So there is no way to differentiate on being competent. Instead, true differentiation in our industry comes down to who cares enough about the content itself and the customer that content connects with. Those who care the most and have the most passion will come out on top.
I like to think I’m in that group. I’ve been doing this job for a long time in various forms and, of course, there are days when trying to find a new and exciting take on industrial machinery or paper products is tough to do. But I have yet to wake up and wish I were doing something else.
I’m also thrilled to be working with a team at SPROUT Content who also brings passion to the work on a daily basis and keeps finding ways to stay excited about what we’re doing for our clients.
So, here’s to the future of content marketing as we enter the Trough of Disillusionment: we’re ready.