Nearly every company in the world today runs on the wheels of content production and content marketing. Without some form of content — from blogs to social media posts to videos and even to webpage verbiage — companies would not be able to communicate with their customers and in turn, customers would not know the best products and services to fit their needs.

Marketing and sales activities are centered around content creation. Several organizations that have invested in creating a content marketing plan have reported a high return on their investment. Beyond that, major companies like Netflix and Apple are already planning major investments in content for 2018. Content creation and marketing will continue to prove to be critical to the strategy of almost every marketing and sales department in 2018.

According to the 2018 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America: B2B Content Marketing report by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, over 60% of B2B marketers noted that “their overall content marketing success has increased (much more/somewhat more) compared with one year ago.” Additionally, when noting the factors that helped to contribute to success in content marketing over the past year, over 70% referred to higher quality and more efficient content creation and development or adjustment of strategy.

The experience and knowledge gained through exercises in content marketing helped to make some content and marketing teams more effective. However, to maintain growth, content developers and marketers alike must keep up with the constant changes that are happening. Leaning on this year’s success alone could be next year’s doom.

Anticipating trends and putting plans in place to ride along with those trends can help you to adjust your content marketing strategy and be ahead of the competition.

Here are some trends you will want to watch out for to be successful in 2018:

1. Data is critical, but not more important then meeting people’s needs and wants.

Paying attention to data and analytics are essential, but that is second to ensuring your product and/or service meets people’s needs and wants. Most people still make purchases and decisions to go with one brand’s services over another largely based upon their emotions about that brand. Data doesn’t follow emotions; it follows hard facts and figures. While on one hand, you want to be able to look at the data and analyze what trends are developing in order to make better decisions, on the other hand, you want to develop content that triggers certain emotions and fills people’s wants and needs. When people feel something missing, you want them to think about your brand.

2. Transparency and authenticity are kings.

Fewer people want to read, watch, or retweet content that just looks good or gives off a good feeling. Additionally, people don’t really want to be sold to anymore. They want to be treated as human beings with emotions and cognitive abilities who can make informed decisions on their own, because they already can. In this sense, people will continue to crave and flock to content that is both honest and appealing, transparent and engaging. Customers are very wary of branded content now, and sponsored posts are not as effective as they once were. To create content that connects with your target audience may require implementing new tools or ensuring your influencers are aligning with the message and voice of your brand.

3. Content roles will change dramatically.

It used to be that posting a blog was enough to be considered a blogger and writing a couple of articles that sounded like news pieces was enough to be called a journalist. But those days are long gone. Brands that generate the most success with their content marketing strategy are taking a digital media publishing approach to their content. They are just creating content to update a website, but developing content for the long-term that helps them establish thought leadership and authority in their industry. Therefore, simply having some writers isn’t enough. You will need to expand your team of a few people to an entire department of writers, editors, script writers, video producers, illustrators, designers, audio producers, social media managers, data and reporting specialists, branding and communication specialist, and one content director to oversee every single project.

4. Average marketing companies and blogs will grow into trusted media, news, and creative agencies.

Traditional media agencies and news organizations are on a downward spiral in more ways than one. Ineffectiveness of advertising and behind the scenes dishonesty are helping to drive some of this trend. In the meantime, typical marketing companies and average creative and micro-news agencies are combining content creation with marketing and sales to create major infrastructures where quality content and journalism collide with transparent marketing. It will make for campaigns, channels, and companies that grow into trusted media, news, and creative agencies, bringing customers knowledge and information that will help them in their daily lives and businesses.

5. Content will build relationships through the buyer’s journey.

When looking at digital marketing, there are not that many parts of it that can run without content. Whether it is emails, blogs, landing pages, videos, podcasts, lead nurturing campaigns, white papers, or social media posts — it all relies very heavily on solid content to drive leads, conversions, and sales. Content creation and marketing will take up a vast amount of an organization’s time, money, talent, and resources going into 2018 because it is the most important thing in order to get people’s attention and build trust. Therefore, each stage of the buyer’s journey will be assigned specific content forms that will be purposeful and interconnected with the goal of building relationships and perhaps gaining brand ambassadors out of loyal customers.

6. Content marketing is the foundation upon which marketing and most everything else in your company will be built.

Content creation and marketing run the world. When we really look at it, nothing gets done in a company without some form of content preceding it. Without content, ideas are just a pipe dream. Ideas even have to be put on paper in the form of business plans in order to make hires, get funding, establish goals, and market your product or service. Without content, social media and advertising would be blank space. When the right content is in place and targeting the right people, all of the other marketing goals and ideas will begin to take off.

By focusing on these trends in the content creation and marketing space, you will be ahead of your competition going into 2018. The most important thing is to remain aware of changes and updates in the industry and maintain flexibility to adapt what will work for you. Content creation and marketing is worth all the investment in the world to make your business work for you and your customers.