Our first #5QuestionsWith begins with Robert Rose, a thought leader in the content marketing movement, who shares with us some key insights.
About Robert Rose: As the Chief Strategy Advisor for the Content Marketing Institute, Robert innovates creative and technical content marketing strategies for his clients. An early Internet pioneer, Robert has more than 15 years of experience, and a track record of helping brands and businesses develop successful Web and content marketing strategies. Robert previously released Experiences: The 7th Era Of Marketing with co-author Carla Johnson. Robert is a frequent keynote speaker, advising top professionals in the successful strategy of online marketing and Web site management. He’s also the author of the books Managing Content Marketing and Killing Marketing with Joe Pulizzi.
The biggest mistake is to look at Content Marketing as the same as classic marketing and advertising – where you create something that speaks to your brand’s features and benefits, and then try to persuade people through content.
Content Marketing is about building an audience to your ideas, not your products or service. It is based on delivering value through the content itself. Your content should inspire, educate, entertain or be useful without regard to the fact that it is a particular brand or product delivering it.
It’s a huge challenge because purpose can evolve quickly. There are classic, long-term purposes such as environmental, diversity, and sustainability. And, then there are more political and evolving purposes like COVID-19, or equal rights. The key for any brand is to find out where they stand, strategically, and how much of a voice they want to take. The biggest mistake is to rush into creating content, or posing opinions when it’s not an authentic viewpoint, or there are conflicting issues within the company.
Creating valuable content that takes a position can be tremendously beneficial for the brand. But it also has its risks. The company must reconcile the fact that in order to be really right for someone, we have to be willing to be wrong for others. That’s a difficult decision. But once it’s taken – the company has to lean into it.
CMOs must understand that Content Marketing is a leading strategy, not a follow-on tactic. Many businesses treat content as an in-house design shop where “assets” are created and then used to fuel classic marketing campaigns (see my answer to Question 1). This is destined to be difficult to scale, and impossible to measure. Content Marketing must be creating a strategic approach to how the brand’s voice is expressed across multiple channels, and delivers value through great, differentiating content. Some of what this strategy creates will make great “assets” for marketing campaigns. And the true art of Content Marketing is balancing how much of that content can be re-used.
Content is the most powerful ways to change beliefs, and create action in customers. Great content marketing inspires people to take action willingly, happily and trustingly. And building that kind of trust in our audiences is the best we can ask for in today’s world.
In the previous question I spoke of the “balance” that is required to understand where content is simply serving as bait for regular marketing, vs. where it is helping the brand to establish itself as a leader in its space. Conducting a content audit is one of the best ways to see where the content marketing approach may be imbalanced.
Watch for more acquisitions by brands of media companies such as magazines, blogs and digital publishers. The post-Covid era will be a difficult one for some brands, and some media companies. If you are a brand, there are many blogs, media companies and digital publishers that may be available for you to acquire and give your business a jump-start in content marketing.
But – additionally – watch for more media companies to begin to launch product lines that compete directly with product companies. In both B2B and B2C, we will see media companies launch new services, and products that are directly competitive.