Chicago’s Place in the Future of Marketing and Publishing


Chicago has always been a publishing town. We’ve been the home to publishing powerhouses (Donnelley), major magazines (Playboy, JET) and dozens of newspapers. We even have a neighborhood called Printers Row.

Chicago has always been a marketing town. We’ve been the home to global marketing companies (Edelman, Leo, GolinHarris). We’ve given birth to online marketers that manage billions in transactions (Orbitz, Groupon, GrubHub, Threadless). Chicago has been a force in the marketing world for 60 years.

So you would think that as the world enters a new era of content marketing, Chicago would take it’s place high on the list of relevant cities. But has it?

We’re going to get some answers to that question. But first, let’s define the term. What exactly is “content marketing?” It’s the age-old practice of promoting a business with useful content.

Unlike advertising, which tries to get attention by interrupting (think radio and TV ads) or distracting (think direct mail and billboards). Content marketing is about attracting and retaining customer by helping your audience research a decision. It means you’re so you’re first in line when they’re ready to buy.

It’s not new, but there are lots of new ways to do it. Search marketing is more effective than ever. Social media is maturing. Analytics are getting smarter. Consumers are sharing more advice with friends.

As consumers, we prefer it. We forward past 30-second ads, but then spend 20 minutes reading reviews of cat toys.

The content cat is out of the bag

Content marketing is growing fast. In a 2012 B2B content marketing study by the Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs, 60 percent of respondents said they planned to increase their budgets.

And business are looking for help. The number of searches for “content marketing” in Google has nearly doubled over the last 12 months.

So where does Chicago fit in?

Not near the top. When it comes to content marketing, the second city ranks fifth, at least in terms of online demand and search volume.

Maybe we’re doing it, we’re just calling it something else. Or maybe we’re not home to any of the big content marketing companies, like Marketing Profs and Hubspot in Boston or the Content Marketing Institute in Cleveland. Or maybe we’re just slow to catch on.

Andy Crestodina is the Strategic Director of Orbit Media, a web development company in Chicago. You can find Andy on Google+, on Twitter and sometimes at Chicago tech events like Technori Pitch.

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