“We are entering the second phase of marketing transformation,” Skyword CEO Tom Gerace boldly declared during his keynote at the Skyword Forward 2018 content marketing conference last week in Boston. As we move away from advertising and toward content marketing initiatives – even in small business – leaders are asking not if it will work, but how big it can get.

Three years ago, Skyword forecasted a rapid decline in what Gerace called “interrupt marketing”: advertising and cold-calling. And those days are here: while Coca-Cola has ditched its chief marketing officer, Netflix has more than doubled in value in just one year. In fact, Netflix is more valuable than Disney or Comcast, Gerace said. On the B2B side, each $1 spent on content marketing results in $10 in lead value, he said.

But marketers need to learn new skills to become “storytellers,” creating new experiences for customers that span the entire customer lifecycle.

Skyword Forward 2018: The Love Boat

What was the biggest boon to the cruise industry in the late 1970s/early 1980s? It wasn’t a series of ads touting how much fun you’d have on a cruise – it was The Love Boat, a TV series. While it wasn’t produced by the cruise industry, it added $30 billion in annual spend to the cruise space.

The good news? You don’t have to create a TV series to deliver a stellar content experience to your customers!

Be a Showrunner

However, as a marketer, you do need to be a showrunner of sorts, Gerace said. To be a showrunner, it begins with an intimate knowledge of your audience. You need to know the demographics and psychographics of your audience – and, as marketers, we also can track their actual behaviors and what they click on and read through analytics. Understand their core values.

Fidelity Investments, for example, created Indy Life for freelancers. This provides them with valuable information about what their customers are doing at the beginning of the customer lifecycle by creating content to better understand the “gig economy.”

Another thing that a good showrunner has is awareness of the art. Understand the craft and what the experts say on how great stories are told. Be ready to scale your content marketing so you can impact the business wherever it operates, Gerace said.

Content marketing is here, and it’s not going away. As an SMB, be prepared to spend less on advertising and more on content marketing if you want to attract and retain customers.

Itching to attend a content marketing conference this year? Check out the SMB Soup Ultimate List of Content Marketing Conferences for SMBs!