I’ve only been heavily involved in marketing at my company for a couple years now, but two memes in particular seem to be cropping up a lot: revenue or “closed-loop” marketing, and content marketing.

  • “Closed-loop marketing” has a lot of components, but basically it means that marketing is actually responsible for revenue (hence its alternative name, “revenue marketing”). This is a replacement for the “demand gen” or “lead gen” model, where marketing is only responsible for delivering leads and it’s the job of Sales to close them.

  • “Content marketing” means marketing through the creation of valuable content, such as whitepapers, ebooks, videos, blog posts. Producing this content causes buyers to trust you, gives you something to “trade” for their contact information, and lets you own the process of educating them.

I think these ideas are pretty closely related and it’s not a coincidence that they’re simultaneously popular.

The old model of marketing is to generate marketing material and hope some of it sticks; this is the famous dictum that “half of my marketing spend is effective, but I don’t know which half”. Sometimes it’s 20% or some other number, but the story is the same. As far as I can tell, almost all marketers still do this.

Closed-loop marketing is about removing or at least reducing that uncertainty so that you can focus on generating content and messaging that really resonates with what consumers are looking for (and what they are willing to pay you for).

Content marketing is the idea that content that is valuable for consumers, is content that is valuable for your company. Content marketing as an idea works much better together with closed-loop marketing, because it’s a lot harder to produce extremely high-quality assets and give them away if you have no idea whether they’re effective.

It’s certainly been done in the past - look at the Betty Crocker Cookbook as a perfect example - but it hasn’t been as easy to justify until now.

One nice thing about both ideas is that they represent a _huge _opportunity for marketers, and actually for storytelling-driven marketers in particular. Marketing doesn’t have to be a cost center anymore, and the reason it doesn’t have to be a cost center is that we can increase the quality of stories so that customers beat a path to our door.

(Rather than the old model of “revenue marketing”, which is to tell bigger stories - without regard for whether they’re true or not - in the hopes that you can talk people into buying products that they don’t actually need or want.)