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What Is Content Marketing? It’s Starts With Culture!


I was recently interviewed by an international business rag on content marketing. They asked me things like what is it, why anyone should care, how to do it well, etc.

We all know content marketing is nothing new. And sometimes this is one way it is dismissed – as just another marketing “buzzword.” But one of the things that’s really interesting to me about content marketing, is how few Marketing Leaders are talking about it.

I’ve written about the content marketing echo chamber before because I worry that, at the practitioner level, we are all just talking to ourselves.

Content Marketing is a business opportunity, not a fad, or a trend, or just another buzzword. It’s the vehicle that can deliver us from the throes of the “death by SPAM” illness that still persists in many marketing organizations.

Some marketers believe it’s important, they just might not know how to implement the steps toward change. I think we still have a big job to do in explaining what it is, why it’s important and how to get it done. Hopefully, you’ll get some answers here.

What is your definition of content marketing?

Content Marketing is big trend in marketing because it represents the difference between what most brands produce in the marketing and what our customers actually want. No one is sitting around and waiting for a “campaign” with an “offer”. Our audience is looking for compelling content that meets their needs to be informed, educated, entertained or distracted. Content marketing can be defined as a continuous process of creating, publishing and sharing content that drives business outcomes for a brand. It is not a campaign. It is not a type of content. It is a publishing mindset that seeks to deliver the content customers want and the ability to convert that attention into quantifiable results for the business.

What are the two or three thing that a company needs to do to be successful with content marketing?

The most important component of successful content marketing is a customer-centric culture that seeks to meet the needs of its customers. It is this “higher purpose” that resonates with customers. We are smart enough to see through brands who try to fake a desire to be helpful vs. promotional.

The second thing is the ability to create engaging content that answers your customers’ most important questions. The brands that are able to break through all the clutter and noise in our information-saturated society is not the one with the biggest budget, or the fanciest advertising agency. It is the brand that can create content that captures our attention, on a human level, that wins the hearts and minds of their desired audience.

The third thing is an entrepreneurial spirit. Effective content marketing is constantly iterating many ideas. That is why it must be continuous. Most of the things you try will fail. But every failure provides insights into what works. And this spirit is the foundation for creating break through content that reaches more people than you thought possible. Test. Learn. Optimize.

What are the two or three most important things that a CMO needs to understand regarding content marketing?

CMOs need to focus on culture. Our CMO Jonathan Becher likes to repeat the line from Peter Drucker that “culture eats strategy for lunch.” Instilling a customer-centric culture is increasingly a matter of survival for firms in this age where consumers block out any messages they don’t want.

From a business case perspective, CMOs need to look across the company and identify all the content that gets created, at considerable cost, and that no one ever uses. Some content marketers have suggested as much as half of the content created inside a company, for customers, never gets viewed, even once. That is considerable cost and inefficiency. And this can support the idea for change.

So content marketing is not an additional expense. It can be funded by eliminating existing waste. And it’s an opportunity to make marketing more efficient overall.

What are the most common mistakes that companies make regarding content marketing?

The biggest mistakes companies make when it comes to content marketing include outsourcing all of it, over-investing in it, or failing to establish the foundations needed for effective customer-centric marketing communications.

Where will content marketing go from here?

The future of content marketing is more human interaction. You will see brands tap into their employees to reach out, often through social networks, to customers. You will see brands hiring comedians. You will see more brands creating much more video content, and even sponsoring content more commonly created by entertainment companies. We’re already seeing this with brands like Google, Red Bull, Netflix and Amazon.

What is the relationship between content marketing and social media?

Content marketing is a sub-set of marketing. It’s an approach to marketing that is different from the traditional approach of advertising, events, and email campaigns. Social media is a channel of communication, like the radio and television. The difference is that everyday people, like us, have the power to publish through social media. In a sense, social media allows us all to be content marketers.

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