It's the content that counts: Content marketing in corporate communications

Picture of Frank Hochhuth

Frank Hochhuth

December 1, 2017

The term content marketing should be familiar to anyone who has ever tried to sell anything. The Bill Gates quote "Content is King" is as worn out as a Capri Sun after a day of hiking. Despite its high profile and supposed prevalence, companies still use content marketing far too little - or far too haphazardly - for their external communication. But this is a huge waste of potential.

Meaning hui, investments pfui?

In 2015, the company surveyed Namics as part of a Study 59 companies of various sectors and sizes from Germany and Switzerland on their content marketing activities. The result:

  • 85 percent use content marketing and rate its importance as "great"
  • 53 percent have been active in content marketing for more than five years
  • The most important goal of content marketing is to tailor content to the target group

Despite this obvious importance

  • companies invest on average less than 10 percent of their communication budget in content marketing.
  • only 18 percent rate their approach to content marketing as "mature".
  • only around 30 percent of companies have a content marketing strategy.
  • only 37 percent tailor their topics to the interests of their target group.

Where does the discrepancy come from?

In view of this obvious discrepancy, the question naturally arises: why do companies invest so little in content marketing if they consider it to be so important?

I think these two reasons are plausible:

1. the effort is relatively high

Content marketing is more than just a fancy ad and a snappy slogan. Sure - this also requires practice and know-how if the advertising, whether as a spot, ad or poster, is to really catch on. But content marketing is about content that offers real added value for the reader, listener or viewer. It is not about clumsily promoting oh-so-great products, but about providing information for the target group. This creates a "pull effect": users come to the website because they are looking for a solution to their problem. In the best case scenario, they then buy the product that solves the problem. The prerequisite is therefore: the company must have a Customer problem firstly recognizesecondly, the develop a suitable product and thirdly, all this Communicate in a target group-oriented way.

For this to work, specialist knowledge and regular content maintenance, coupled with performance monitoring, target group research and constant optimization are necessary. This is hardly possible "on the side". An editorial team that regularly adds new content to a blog, collects feedback and takes it into account is essential.

2. content marketing must be culturally anchored

If a marketing department has relied on traditional advertising for years or decades, it is difficult to establish something new. If you want to take a strategic approach to the topic of external corporate communication, you need

  • one Content strategy
  • Internal training on the topic
  • Learning by doing
  • Measuring and monitoring the success of activities
  • at least two employees who are only responsible for content marketing.

One way out of the vicious circle of "I should do it, but I don't have time", followed by a guilty conscience and blind actionism that quickly dies out as a flash in the pan, could be to involve a communications agency. Every company should check for itself what it is still missing on the way to successfully implementing content marketing and whether it can guarantee this in-house via the marketing department or whether it is more cost-effective to outsource it to external service providers.

Find the right format

Even if the explanations for the sometimes less strategic approach to content marketing are understandable from a human perspective, they are not from a business perspective. Because new customer acquisition and customer loyalty can be greatly improved through content marketing. If you feel well advised by experts, you have no reason to look for alternatives. The best way to demonstrate this expertise is through good, expert content. The following formats, for example, are suitable for preparation:

  • Tutorial: Anyone selling a product that requires instructions can publish a tutorial. So-called how-to's are particularly popular on the internet: from knitting instructions to repairing electrical appliances to the right party outfit, almost everything can be found on YouTube.
  • Blog: If you regularly publish specialist articles on certain topics, you can develop a loyal readership over time, which could potentially become customers. Publishing is a must, especially if you want to position yourself as an expert in a certain field.
  • Newsletter: Its main purpose is to retain existing customers by providing information on current projects and topics.
  • Interview: Conversations with experts and people who have a wide reach in the media serve as a multiplier for the content and make you known beyond your own nose.
  • Testimonials from satisfied customers, Test reports and Reviewse.g. via specialist books or products. The decisive factor here is Authenticity. Anyone who tries to fake positive feedback is usually quickly exposed and is then considered dubious.

Social networks represent a special opportunity, but also a challenge for content marketers. You can read why the use of a social media manager is almost mandatory for companies at External corporate communication: cultivating relationships and establishing contacts through skillful use of media.

(Cover image: © Marek |

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Picture of Frank Hochhuth

Frank Hochhuth

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