King Content’s lost crown is no reflection on the content marketing industry

The King Content story is getting a lot of attention. In the midst of the corporate drama of Isentia's axing of the brand, content marketing and the agencies that specialise in it are at the risk of getting a bad rap, warns Mahlab founder Bobbi Mahlab.

On Wednesday, Mumbrella’s Tim Burrowes posted to LinkedIn about Isentia axing the King Content brand and writing down the sale price of $37.8m.

It followed the company’s announcement that it would be discontinuing the King Content brand and folding its content marketing operations into the main Isentia brand.

He said: “While it doesn’t prove that content marketing is worthless, it does rather suggest that Isentia bought a future number that wasn’t achievable once brands started doing their own content marketing in-house.”

Content marketing agencies like ours are flourishing. We are working with brands with in-house teams and with brands that outsource and those that do both.

The way we see it, brands doing their own content marketing in-house is a positive. It means there are internal champions who understand what content marketing is and the business goals it can deliver.

Our role as an agency is to complement in-house teams, to help them understand their customer and to help them with strategy, amplification, overflow content creation and developing the big creative idea.

The media landscape is changing so quickly and comprehensively that in-house teams can be hard-pressed to keep abreast of the latest trends and opportunities.

This applies to both smaller brands lacking sufficient resources and larger brands that must produce diverse, targeted, high-quality content at a fast turnaround. In both scenarios, there is only so much that an organisation’s bandwidth can be stretched.

In contrast, this is the atmosphere agencies are permanently immersed in.

The strength of good agencies lies in their ability to consistently deliver quality content and in their ability to specialise; successful content is about a hell of a lot more than creation.

For content that rises above the churn of forgettable copy, you need expertise in strategy, distribution, optimisation, design, amplification and commercialisation.

If you can find a writer or marketer who can, say, translate your business objectives into a content strategy, write the content that brings that strategy to life, design and build an EDM to get that content out, optimise your social media postings on emerging platforms, target the right audiences to make the most of your amplification budget and devise tactics to commercialise your content offerings, hire that person immediately.

Otherwise, an agency is going to be more effective for the content marketer who wants every part of their strategy to sing the same song.

A recent ADMA/CMI report found that 47% of marketers intend to increase their spend on content marketing this year. These are marketers that recognise that content marketing is about being customer-centric. Help your customer and you help yourself.

As I see it, the Isentia/King Content story demands questions about due diligence and service delivery. It would be a shame if the fortunes of one player marred the reputation of content marketing as a discipline or the role agencies can play in helping marketers help their customers and achieve their business goals.

Bobbi Mahlab is the managing director of Mahlab, a multi-award winning content marketing agency. You can watch her “24 hours with” segment here.


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