Evolution of Content Marketing: A Journey Through Time
In the ever-evolving realm of marketing, adaptation is not merely a choice but a necessity. Over the past two decades, the marketing landscape has undergone a seismic transformation, driven by the relentless march of technology and shifting consumer behaviors. What once thrived as traditional advertising has morphed into a dynamic ecosystem encompassing digital, social media, data analytics, and artificial intelligence.
Join Rishabh Shekhar, Co-Founder and Chief Operations Officer at Pepper Content, and Madhulika, CEO - Martist Services Pvt. Ltd as they discuss all this and more.
Here are some excerpts:
1. Can you tell us about your journey into the world of marketing?
I began my journey in the marketing world almost two decades ago, back in 1999. It was a time when digital marketing was virtually nonexistent, and the field was steeped in traditional practices. After completing my MBA in advertising and PR, my initial ambition was to become a copywriter, working with a renowned creative agency in Mumbai. I had a knack for crafting quirky copy since my college days, and I could envision myself creating memorable ads.
However, my career took a different turn when I entered the realm of brand marketing within an organization. My first job was in the brand communication division of Leela Ventures, a part of the Leela Group of Hotels in the hospitality industry. It was here that I truly fell in love with marketing and PR. In those days, roles were less defined compared to today's structured divisions like content and communications. I embraced the multifaceted nature of my work, from PR to media relations, and even collaborating with ad agencies.
Over the years, I worked with various renowned brands, including Piddle Light Industries and Fevicol, where I played a crucial role in launching Hobby Ideas, an arts and crafts initiative. I thrived in the world of brand marketing and eventually decided to start my venture, focusing on strategic marketing and consulting while maintaining a strong connection to brand marketing.
In today's rapidly evolving marketing landscape, with the rise of digital and AI technologies, it's essential to stay informed about industry trends and continue educating clients on the evolving marketing landscape. While technology offers new tools and possibilities, fundamental principles of marketing remain timeless, and striking the right balance between innovation and tradition is key. It's an exciting journey, and I look forward to what the future holds for the marketing industry.
2. How is it different, from working for a brand while consulting for a brand, and creating your brand?
Transitioning from working for a brand to consulting for one and then creating my brand was a journey filled with both excitement and challenges. Initially, I found myself in two different states of mind. On one hand, I was thrilled about venturing out on my own and establishing my brand while also assisting other brands.
On the other hand, I was accustomed to the structured, process-driven environment of established brands where everything was readily available. Now, I had to create and initiate various aspects from scratch, including HR and employee branding.
"There were moments of self-doubt, questioning if I had made the right decision. However, as things began to take shape and I witnessed progress, a sense of fulfillment gradually replaced those doubts."
My brand, Martist Services Private Limited, has been evolving for nearly six years. Within Martist, we have several sub-verticals or sub-agencies that cater to different aspects of marketing. This journey has been transformative, challenging, and immensely rewarding, allowing me to apply my marketing expertise in new and innovative ways while building something of my own.
3. How do you help brands in your consultation?
In my consultancy work, the first step is to identify the specific pain points and challenges that brands are currently facing in today's dynamic market. This involves understanding the brand's position, whether it's a new launch or an existing one, and gaining clarity on its objectives. Based on this assessment, we develop tailored strategies that can range from content-centric approaches to branding-focused solutions.
For example, we might address trust issues among employees or customers and formulate strategies to tackle them. The key is to create a customized plan that aligns with the brand's unique situation and goals, considering the ever-evolving landscape of marketing and communication.
4. Can you share your insights on the evolution of content marketing and how brands have adapted?
The evolution of content marketing over the past two decades has been truly remarkable. In the earlier days, content was quite limited in its reach and format. Brands relied heavily on catchy slogans, punchlines, and taglines to convey their message. Iconic campaigns like Amul's witty advertisements are a testament to the effectiveness of this approach. However, the content was confined to these clever one-liners, and that was sufficient at the time.
Fast forward to the present, and content marketing has undergone a seismic shift. In today's digital age, brands cannot afford to overlook the importance of a robust content strategy. Content has diversified into various forms and channels, each requiring a tailored approach. Whether it's content for digital platforms, traditional media, or other avenues, brands must recognize that one-size-fits-all strategies no longer suffice.
"Moreover, relatability has become a crucial factor in content creation, as content that resonates with the audience is more likely to succeed."
One notable transformation is the rise of video content marketing. Visual content has taken center stage, surpassing written content in popularity. This shift has been particularly pronounced in recent years, emphasizing the power of engaging and shareable visual content. Brands that adapt to these changing dynamics and prioritize their content strategies are the ones poised for success in today's dynamic marketing landscape.
5. What, in your opinion, constitutes good content? Can you share an example of a campaign or content that has stood the test of time?
In my view, good content is characterized by its simplicity and effectiveness. Sometimes, in our efforts to create content that stands out, we tend to overcomplicate things with flashy elements. However, simplicity can often be more powerful.
"Effective content doesn't need to be overly complex; it should convey the message clearly and resonate with the audience. Adding an emotional dimension to the content can also make it more relatable and impactful."
For instance, brands like Cadbury use simple yet emotionally resonant content during festive seasons that strikes a chord with Indian consumers. Another classic example is the Amul Girl campaign, which has endured through the years with its simplicity and wit.
In today's digital age, the concept of "in-moment" marketing has gained significance. Brands that incorporate trending topics and current events into their content, when relevant, can capture the fleeting attention of users scrolling through their feeds. However, not every brand can leverage this strategy, so it's important to be agile and adapt to what resonates with your target audience. I recently had a conversation with someone who observed people scrolling through Instagram at lightning speed, hardly stopping to read content. This highlights the need to create content that instantly grabs attention and fits seamlessly into the viewer's environment.
6. With the ever-decreasing attention span of consumers, how do you see marketing evolving in the next three to five years?
Considering the ever-decreasing attention span of consumers, I anticipate that marketing will continue to evolve significantly over the next three to five years. The rapid advancement of technology, particularly in the realm of AI, will play a pivotal role in reshaping marketing strategies. AI will become even more integral to how companies, creative agencies, and content creators operate. It will enable more personalized and efficient marketing efforts, catering to the individual preferences and behaviors of consumers.
However, there seems to be a growing sense of saturation and digital fatigue among consumers. Many people, including myself, at times feel overwhelmed by the constant barrage of content and advertisements. This might lead to a shift in consumer preferences, where individuals seek more privacy and a break from the relentless digital environment. As a result, marketers may need to rethink their strategies and find ways to connect with consumers in a less intrusive and more meaningful manner. Nostalgia marketing, as seen in the resurgence of '90s-era content, could become a trend as people yearn for simpler times.
In summary, while technology will continue to drive marketing innovation, there may also be a counter-trend toward simplicity and privacy. The future of marketing will depend on how effectively brands can balance the use of advanced technology with the evolving needs and desires of consumers. Only time will tell how this delicate balance will shape the marketing landscape in the coming years.
7. If someone is starting a career in marketing today, what advice would you offer to ensure success in this ever-changing field?
For someone embarking on a career in marketing today, my foremost advice would be to stay relentlessly informed about the ever-changing landscape of the industry. Marketing is a field that evolves at a rapid pace, with new technologies, trends, and platforms emerging regularly.
"To thrive in this dynamic environment, it's crucial to stay up-to-date with the latest developments, even if they may not be immediately relevant to your current role."
You never know when this knowledge might prove invaluable in your marketing journey.
While staying updated with the latest trends is essential, it's equally important not to lose sight of the core principles and fundamentals of marketing. These foundational principles are enduring and provide a solid framework for understanding consumer behavior and crafting effective marketing strategies. Regardless of the latest tools or technologies, having a strong grasp of these fundamentals will serve as a compass in your marketing career.
Another critical aspect is to resist succumbing to undue pressure from brands or clients to adopt every new trend without a thorough understanding of its relevance and effectiveness. As marketers, we have a responsibility to educate our clients and organizations about the nuances of marketing, especially in the digital realm. This includes explaining that ROI (Return on Investment) is not solely about immediate monetary gains but also about metrics like reach and engagement. By taking on this educational role, we can foster better collaborations and set realistic expectations within the industry.
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