Experimentation in Content Marketing ...


I participated on a panel called “Creating and Leveraging Epic Content” at the UBM Electronics Marketing Summit last week.

An earlier session at the Summit flashed the following words:

  • It’s really hard to write quality content.

Note the slide didn’t say “It’s really hard to write content.” Anyone can write content. That’s easy.

It’s the “quality” part that proves troublesome.

As Dennis Hopper uttered in “Easy Rider” –

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David Blaza from UBM facilitated our panel and primed the dialogue with a few slides including data from a BtoB Magazine study on the “why.”

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There’s no question that content marketing in the right hands can produce leads as well as deliver brand awareness and thought leadership. I do find it odd that SEO ranked so low since one would logically think that quality content + SEO = increased traffic, which in turn increases leads.

In a sense, content marketing has been around forever. We just called it white papers or speeches or bylined articles. With so many more channels at our disposal – the wonders of digital – content marketing gives us a term to wrap up all this activity in a tidy bundle.

With that said, I think that the companies willing to take fresh eyes to content marketing and experiment are the ones who will gain competitive advantage.

Here are a few thoughts on what that experimentation might look like:

  • Harness the Collective Writing Power of Employees: My definition of content marketing encapsulates social media. Decentralizing social media so that employees can participate has tremendous upside. Even the humble posted comment on a blog with relevance with your industry represents a form of content marketing. Maybe your company culture or the nature of your business makes it impossible to turn loose your entire employee base. No problem. Just train a subset of employees. The point is, you can scale your social footprint without a major spend.
  • Integrate Writing Talent into One Pool: Writing talent tends to get siloed across companies by function: PR, digital, HR, executive comms, marcom, social, events, field support, etc. I recognize each function has unique requirements. Still, I think there’s logic in establishing a content bureau with the output feeding the various communication channels.
  • Team with Other Ecosystem Players: At its best, content marketing teaches. Why is a teacher from a university more credible than a teacher from a company? It’s about the perception of objectivity. Teachers help you. Companies sell you. By aligning your company with other players in your ecosystem or even competitors, the effort is perceived as more educational. A couple years ago Steve Farnsworth organized the 4/4/4 series in which four communicators, Todd Defren, Paul Roberts, Steve and I, crafted posts on four different questions (independent of each other) spread over four weeks. I learned a ton from the lift that came from this initiative.
  • Design a Content Marketing Campaign for One Prospect: In the B2B world where one customer win can be worth big money, you can rationalize tailoring a content marketing campaign to a single prospect. Let’s say your company’s product has been short-listed at IBM. The buyers and influencers at IBM will inevitably come to your website and maybe the LinkedIn profiles of those involved from your company. Why not refine this content to play into IBM’s decision-making criteria? It could even make sense to build a micro site that’s open to the world, but truly constructed with IBM in mind. You could implement a PPC component based on how the IBM decision makers would search on the topic, bringing them to a landing page, again written with IBM in mind.

I welcome hearing your ideas for experimentation (or perhaps pioneering efforts already underway).

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