Sure, content marketing is an effective tactic for both B2B and B2C brands. We all know it can help improve search engine rankings, engagement with target audiences, and a brand’s reputation as an industry thought leader.

However, many brands still approach content marketing by simply creating (or appropriating) “content” and sharing it via social media, CRM channels, and owned websites. The hope is that something gets shared, goes viral or, at the very least, drives a tiny jump in search engine results.

Brands know they need content to differentiate themselves from the competition. But their strategies are typically decentralized or reactionary. Most organizations just weren’t planning for content marketing to become the powerful tool it is today. Remember how long it took brands to embrace a social strategy?

From content pieces to branded publications

Today, smart brands are already building toward something bigger, more cohesive, and longer lasting. In five years, the brands that excel in content marketing won’t be thinking of it as “content marketing.” They’ll be managing digital publications that drive their businesses forward. We’d go so far as to say the core product of the future is a content or media presence aimed at your target community that generates the majority of your sales.

For example, take Sony Alpha Universe–the website we developed to support Sony’s digital imaging business. Developed as an editorial hub that publishes compelling stories, insightful videos, and beautiful imagery created by Sony partners and enthusiasts, it’s more aligned with a site like Wired than a standard SEO blog. The content is laser focused on Sony’s target audience, just as an industry publication like Shutterbug or Popular Photography would be.

So what’s to stop Alpha Universe from becoming just as popular as the best industry print and online publications? That would be Sony’s long-term goal for content marketing. And it should be the goal of any brand plotting its path forward.