Making Content Marketing Work

Speeds & feeds. “Hero” shots. Print ads. Product placement. Really expensive TV advertisements featuring celebrity endorsements.

Pitching a product and service back when those phrases dominated marketing and advertising discussions seems very quaint today.

In an era where the incumbent media companies are seeing their audiences fragment across a host of different devices and online sites (including the online versions of the incumbent media providers), those old school techniques are losing their juice.

Consumers no longer want a spec sheet or product description that tells them what the product or service is — they want to be shown what the product or service can do for them. And they want to see how other actual people — just like them — use the product or service.

As if that wasn’t tough enough, today’s consumers can spot inauthentic pitches from a mile away. They will happily share your lack of authenticity with millions of their closest friends on Facebook, via Twitter etc., etc. and etc.

Content marketing has emerged in the past three years as a practice that allows marketers to maintain the balance between richer, deeper information, or content, about their products and doing it authentically.

Like so many things in life, describing what content marketing is, and what it can accomplish, is way easier than actually doing content marketing successfully.

In one of Gartner’s earlier docs on content marketing, my colleague Jake Sorofman exhorted marketers to “think like publishers.” Sound advice but many marketers find that to be difficult. To-date, while many marketers are getting much better at sourcing and distributing the kind of content elements for their needs, measuring content marketing’s contribution is not easy. But it can be done.

Using content analytics gives content marketers insight into how their efforts are being received by consumers, providing the kind of objective measures that previous generations of marketers dreamed of having. Jake’s most research round-up on content marketing has some timely examples of companies which have wrestled with the content marketing challenge and are realizing the value of not merely finding, creating and distributing content, they’re also focusing on using all the tools available to amplify their efforts. The story about IKEA’s work in the area is particularly interesting.

Yep, times have changed and it’s a much more complex field than marketing used to be. Digital, content, social, mobile marketers are jobs titles that didn’t exist 15 years ago, for the most part. The good news is that the tools and techniques those new job titles require are increasingly available.

By Mike McGuire | April 6, 2015 |