Content Marketing: Still in the early innings.

Guest Post

I recently came across an article by Lara O’Reilly in MarketingWeek with a provocative title: “There’s value in Content Marketing, but don’t jump in”. The premise of the article was interesting when you consider the rapid ascent of Content Marketing and the attention that this new discipline has garnered.

Recent research findings from Rebecca Lieb, partner at the Altimeter Group, go even further to document both the value and pain points that organizations are realizing as they navigate through the new challenges that Content Marketing is forcing on them. Altimeter’s research was conducted with 56 content marketing thought leaders on the state of Content Marketing and the impact of social media on their organizations.

What follows is a mix of some of the key take aways from this research along with our hands-on experience and observations of guiding our clients on the journey through the “post advertising era”.

Early innings do not make the game
At this stage of the game, no one one has this completely figured out because we’re still in first innings. As such, a lot will change. And it’s going to be a long journey to the other side of the transformation underway in marketing and the way brands interact with their customers and prospects.

Rebalance and reboot to remain relevant.
The new cycle of marketing is unlike the old school of advertising. Gone are the days of highly-crafted, and excrutiatingly scrutinized messages pushed at the highest frequency and lowest CPM to a proprietary universe of suspects and prospects.

Like it or not, brands and marketing organizations are now publishers. And that new responsibility requires new capabilities and competencies that may not exist with your current staff or vendors. So expect all the pain of change and disruption as many start the move from the status quo to “I don’t know.”

What’d you say?
More than ever, people today tune out the noise of traditional ads and traditional messaging. Today’s environment is a lot like search engine marketing. Consumers, B2B prospects and virtually every audience is self-selecting the content and media that they’re “interested” in.

Today’s value is all about read and watch NOW interaction. And while traditional advertising many not go away, paid media is going to have to integrate with owned and earned media in much more significant ways.

Content is always king. But now it’s a continual, never-ending initiative.
Content creation campaigns are no longer measured in 6 week flights but in months and years. What’s more, unlike paid media’s value that evaporates after the flight has ended, content’s value increases over time.

What does this mean for marketers and brands? Translation = Get used to forever participation and publication.

Farewell to the silos
Content Marketing and the need for continual content creation is breaking down traditional organizational silos. That’s because relevant and engaging content is no longer owned by just the Marketing Department.

The days of the logo police have passed. More than ever, because of the low digital barrier of entry, any organization can—and must—function as a broadcaster.

Because of the “foreverness” of this activity, it’s probably going to require most organization’s to turn to outside support and qualified resources to meet their new and growing requirements to provide a continual stream of content that meets their unique needs.

Compelling content defined
Successful content—and the creation of it—falls into 3 important types

  1. It ENTERTAINS — Think the overused but still classic example: Old Spice.
  2. It INFORMS or EDUCATES— Much like the Amex Open Forum. Or White papers and blogs especially for tech solutions.
  3. It PROVIDES UTILITY—Think Mortgage Calculators and specialized apps for everything. Or Charmin’s—Sit or Squat public toilet finder!

A foundation for success
So what are the foundations for effective Content Marketing? And who is responsible for directing this activity and function?

What’s becoming apparent is that success requires cross functional and cross department integration. Because the ever-present tactical objective is to create, publish and disseminate the right content to meet the business objectives of the organization.

Audit to find value
What better place to find value than an audit? As a result, a content audit is no longer optional, it’s essential.

Any business must uncover, evaluate and rate vital assets to further a selling cycle or facilitate moving a target from a prospect to a converted and loyal customer. Content is the essential component that can accomplish this objective. Analysis of any new or existing content needs to consider if the component accurately represents the brand and its value and if it’s optimized for search to get found.

What a great story
With the ever-increasing volume of content more and more are turning to visual, social and mobile content to stand out and get noticed, shared and remembered.

While the aspirations of this may be obvious, the implications are significant. Bottom line, this type of content is harder to optimize search, and usually requires more resources to produce and deploy. What’s more, these types of efforts are usually more production intensive and require more investment in qualified resources.

Take away: Good content is NOT FREE. But it’s usually worth the investment because it increases the opportunity to be found, shared and remembered.

So where are you?

Have you and your company embarked on the journey through the “post advertising era”?

How are you faring? Please share your successes or flops.


Content Marketing: Still in the early innings.
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