What is a Content Marketing Strategy?
In this episode, Joe Pulizzi, founder and CEO of Content Marketing Institute, and Robert Rose, CMI’s Chief Strategist and frequent workshop leader, discuss a topic they cover often in their workshops and keynotes.
Most businesses don’t have a documented content marketing strategy. Only about 40% believe they have one. Those businesses that have a documented content marketing strategy are more effective. Those with a plan for the creation and distribution of valuable, relevant and consistently published content get the best results. However, most businesses fall down in consistency.
Brands Should Think Like a Publisher
A publisher goes out of business if they don’t publish content consistently. A company with a publisher’s mindset understands the importance of consistency in their content. The reason for having a content strategy to begin with is to attract and retain a clearly defined audience to drive a profitable outcome to the business. Paramount to this is knowing who your audience is, what you’re going to deliver to them, and doing so on a consistent basis and, of course having a desired outcome for the reader and for your business.
Definition of Content Marketing
Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
The definition above comes from a blog post published by Joe on the CMI blog. Content strategy is not a separate silo that belongs only in the marketing or PR or social department. Traditional marketing – print, advertising, SEO, events, etc., – can be made more effective by integrating content into them as a forethought, not as a separate silo.
Too many companies have jumped on the content marketing bandwagon by starting with a marketing initiative that says something like “we need to have a blog.” Many companies have created a blog, but they don’t know how it drives business outcomes, so they fail. The lack of a documented plan is the heart of the problem.
All content requires an editorial mission statement. There are many different types of content – audio, video, written. Joe’s career experience as a publisher reminds us that all publishers have an editorial mission statement that define: who is the audience and what do we want them to get out of our content? Unfortunately, very few brands start their content plan with an editorial mission statement. Therefore, the basic building blocks of publishing are missing right out of the gate in the absence of an editorial mission statement.
Random Acts of Content
Robert points out that they’re seeing more attendance at events by C-Suite representatives. Even still, workshops are mostly attended by the marketing practitioners. When someone in the C-Suite admits they need to understand how content fits into the business’ strategy, there is a behavior change from “random acts of content” to a codified content strategy with an editorial mission statement.
Joe admits the simplicity of “content marketing” as a phrase is half the reason it’s become such widely adopted nomenclature. He points out that the level of acceptance in Asia for content marketing is astounding. The C-Suite is buying into it because the industry has adopted the term. It’s that simple.
The tipping point is upon us. Content marketing is in the “valley of disillusionment” where people have openly started to criticize it. The naysayers have come out in droves. It’s our job as marketers to have a strong argument in favor of the merit of content marketing.
Robert points out that they are starting to see more participation at workshops with cross functional teams made up of employees from other departments. Their workshop overview description encourages participation from employees across different departments such as PR, product marketing, sales, customer service. Anyone who touches the customer is encouraged to participate in the workshop. The realization that a codified strategy where these “random acts of content” are not nearly as effective as a cross referenced, holistic story is “magical” to the workshop attendees. They realize how much easier it is and how they can eliminate wasted and duplicated effort.
At one recent content event, an HR executive in attendance approached Joe to explain that an employee spokesperson is getting too popular. Joe was told that everybody loves this person. And, the brand is getting concerned that this person is getting too popular. They are considering shutting down this person as a company spokesperson because they fear it’s too much power for one employee. Joe suggested they embrace this. Yay! He suggested to look for ways to diversify the company’s “portfolio” of employee spokespeople by empowering more people, thereby reducing the risk of just one employee spokesperson. There should be a documented employee branding strategy as a subset of the content strategy. And, it needs a training program. Create a “story mapping” plan. Map out the plan for a structure to the content plan. Mission + project aligned with the content creates a map to empower the creation of the content.
“One Thing” Question
Robert’s and Joe’s answer to my “one thing” question didn’t surprise me.
Robert: Tear down the silos of the marketing in companies.
Joe: Build your own audience, rather than relying heavily on borrowing other people’s audience through paid advertising.