The Future of Content Marketing: 10 Things to Consider TodayPresentation

The Future of Content Marketing: 10 Things to Consider TodayPresentation

Over the last few months. Joe Pulizzi has been sharing exclusive insights in CMI’s weekly newsletter, The Content Marketing Revolution. These tips are things that struck him each week, but when we looked at them in total many had a theme: they help marketing leaders prepare for the future of content marketing. The ideas range from big to small and quick to implement and a bit longer-term, but all are things you should be thinking about today. For more exclusive insights from Joe, subscribe to The Content Marketing Revolution. What do you really need to know to prepare for the future of content marketing?

Let me take you back 15 years. At that time, the preferred term for what we now know as the content marketing industry was “custom publishing.” Long story short, everyone called the art and science of content marketing something different. A decade ago I would call on senior marketers to sell them content marketing services, and literally every group I spoke with had a different name for it. Most of my meetings were spent educating them and simply trying to get on the same page so that a meeting of the minds could take place. It was extremely frustrating... and one of the biggest reasons why our industry stagnated for quite some time. Sure, the growth of the web, social media, Google, and analyzing consumer behavior have all helped place a greater focus on content marketing, but a lot of the credit for our industry’s growth needs to be credited to the fact that we are starting to speak the same language. But, before we begin, it’s important to understand why a unifying term is so important for content marketing

These days, you won’t go very long without finding a blog post that’s been passionately penned by someone who hates the term content marketing. I totally get it... especially since many marketers out there use the term so loosely that many have forgotten (or simply don’t know) what content marketing really means. Yes, I’m personally vested in the term content marketing, but the important thing is that we have universal agreement on whatever term we, as an industry, have collectively decided to use. Now that we have this, we can continue to build our industry, warts and all, together. I think those who continue to fight against the term content marketing haven’t spent decades in the industry and don’t understand where we’ve come from. If they did, they’d know that one term, no matter its faults, is better than 100 different terms. (Original publication date: April 25, 2014)

At CMI, we work with a client that targets 50 of its best customers by sending them one printed book a month — along with a hand-written letter. When asked what keeps those 50 buyers as customers, its Book-of-the-Month service is always at the top of the list. Years ago, I worked with Agilent Technologies on a content program that had an intended audience of just 200 people. I also worked on a program for Agilent that targeted 100,000, but to Agilent, the content marketing program to the 200 was way more important. To most, efforts like these would seem insignificant, as they target the few rather than the many. But to those counted among the few, it could mean the world. Focus on the little things 

Think about the following: l Maybe more people is not the answer; maybe it’s time to focus on reaching fewer of the right people. l If the answer is fewer people, maybe we should be fine-tuning our content marketing strategy so that it’s much more relevant and useful to those few people. l You don’t need a content marketing program targeting all the buyers, influencers, and gatekeepers that make up your audience. If you have one like that, you are sure to fail. At CMI, we have six personas — though we target only two with content programs. Take the time to focus on these little things. They may make all the difference to your content marketing program. (Original publication date: April 25, 2014) 

There is an incredible amount of angel and venture funding coming into the content marketing space. These days, it seems there are more “content marketing platforms” than you can shake a stick at — and people who want to fund them are just as numerous (if not more so). This trend will lead to more consolidation, like what we’ve seen with Oracle buying Compendium and ExactTarget/Pardot being purchased by Heck, Robert Rose and I (in our #ThisOldMarketing podcast) even kicked around the idea of LinkedIn buying a content discovery platform like Outbrain, Taboola, or nRelate (a perfect fit, in our opinion). But if you’ve only looked that far, you’d be missing the real story. We are starting to see some real interest by brands looking to purchase media companies. It’s a true “build it or buy it” scenario. Of course, thousands of organizations are structuring around content marketing and looking to acquire audiences over time with Prepare to purchase a media platform 
compelling, actionable content. That takes patience, and some large brands simply don’t have that kind of patience. But what they do have is cash. So don’t be surprised when you see your favorite brand (or maybe even your own) start to look at acquiring audiences and editorial teams by purchasing media platforms. We aren’t quite there yet, but we at CMI are expecting this to kick into full gear by early 2015. What should this mean to you? A lot, actually. If you work for a brand with any kind of a budget, I’d recommend putting a short list together of properties where your customers are hanging out on a regular basis. This short list should become your potential acquisition list (or, at least, your “partnership possibility” list). Think I’m joking? Just wait. This thing is really going to take off... and brands that take it seriously now will have first-mover advantage when it does. (Original publication date: May 1, 2014) 

Quick test: Do you actually know all the people in your organization who create content for you on a regular basis? I had the pleasure of talking to a senior marketer at a mid-sized brand recently. She was distressed that the organization simply didn’t have enough raw content to fill all its email, social, and owned media channels. I sent her on a fact-finding mission, which she chose to accept. What did it entail? First, she started with her marketing department, talking to each staff member to find out who was tasked with creating original content, for any purpose, within the organization. Then she moved to the sales team; she talked to PR and to the social media director, before moving on to speak with IT, human resources, and customer service. Audit your internal content 

But she also met with less-obvious teams, such as finance and the engineering group, to see if any content was flowing through their departments. After a couple of weeks, I checked back to see what she found out. The good news is that I was right — she had plenty of content at her disposal. The bad news is that she discovered a new content challenge: Content creation had run amok across the enterprise. As her next step, she has started putting together a collaborative effort to track all of this content on an ongoing basis, so she can get a clearer view of what can and should be leveraged for marketing purposes. Do you ever feel like you don’t have enough content? Give this exercise a test drive — I’m certain you’ll be shocked at how much hidden content you find. (Original publication date: May 9, 2014) 

Both Robert Rose and I had the pleasure of interviewing Coca-Cola’s Jonathan Mildenhall before he made the move to AirBnB. Jonathan was, perhaps, the key individual responsible for evangelizing Coke’s content marketing strategy, the infamous Content 2020. An often-overlooked part of this strategy was the 10%. The 10% was something we at CMI have talked about for years but never executed... until now. While we were in San Francisco for our Executive Forum conference, the CMI team held a staff meeting where we set aside time to discuss our own 10% initiatives. What is this 10%? It’s spending one-tenth of our time and resources on the wild, the crazy, the seemingly unrealistic ideas we have, and making them part of our content marketing strategy. When we asked Jonathan about this, both Robert and I assumed that the 10% is where the costly creative programs come from. Figure out your 10% 

Not so, according to Jonathan. Actually, these are the least expense programs. For the most part, Jonathan stated that these programs actually were not time-intensive in relation to the other content marketing they were creating and distributing. The one problem? Actually spending the staff time to think about and incorporate those 10% ideas. I cannot tell you how valuable it was for our team to do the 10% exercise — putting aside the rational and thinking way outside of the box. The team came up with some amazing ideas that you will most likely see as part of our 10% in the very near future. (Original publication date: June 13, 2014) 

If you read CMI content on a regular basis, you know we love content marketing mission statements. Basically, a content marketing mission statement identifies who your targeted audience is, what you are going to deliver, and what the reader/watcher/listener outcome should be. No content project should be without a content mission. When I do presentations, I always say that the outcomes are the most important part of this: Why is the content you are sending so important to the audience? How will it help them save time or money? Will it help them get a better job? Will it change their life for the positive in some way? This is all great in theory, but we rarely find brands that actually adhere to their mission statements. To be honest, they get wrapped up in what they are trying to sell, and after PR, sales and marketing dilutes the content even further, it can no longer fulfill its mission. Add outcomes to your content calendar 

Here’s a handy exercise that I recommend using to stay on track: Hopefully, you have an editorial/content calendar. If so, I’m sure it includes important details like titles, topics, creators, editors, keywords, etc. But do you have a column where you note the desired outcome? What I love about adding this item to a content calendar is it forces you to consider what the core deliverables should be from the reader’s perspective — not just from your own view. If you do this up front in your content process, it will save an unbelievable amount of editing time because the content creator truly understands (and sees) what the goal should be for every piece of content. Try adding this to your calendar and just watch the magic that ensues. (Original publication date: June 13, 2014) 

While everyone is talking about the future of video, we may be missing out on the biggest opportunity in the near term: podcasting. Have you heard about Apple’s CarPlay? Already Volvo, Mercedes, Honda, Hyundai, and Ferrari are listed as using Apple’s CarPlay for 2014. I’m under the assumption that Ford and GM will follow the leaders for their 2015/2016 models. This means that access to podcasts will become easier than ever. In talking with our listeners, most seem to enjoy our podcast on their commute to work. Most likely, those people are plugging their smartphones directly into their AUX systems and listening. While this isn’t difficult, it is an additional step. CarPlay cuts out the middleman and gets you access directly to the iTunes library of podcasts through the INFOtainment dashboard in your car. Make an (educated) bet on audio content marketing 

The real opportunity is now. If you look at most categories, from crafts to B2B to marketing, there simply isn’t the competition there is in videos or web content — and according to CMI/MarketingProfs research, fewer than 25 percent of marketers are publishing podcasts (vs. about 80 percent for videos). This means that with podcasts, your content will have an easier time making it to the top of the charts and getting to your target audience. When you have your next in-house content strategy meeting, consider the possibility of podcasts accomplishing your marketing goals. While everyone else is trying to create that next viral social media post, you’ll be creating a loyal following with your podcasting efforts. (Original publication date: June 13, 2014) 

Just this week, I gave a keynote presentation to an audience of 800+ association marketers. When I asked, “How many of you have a documented content marketing strategy?” just a few hands were raised. Unfortunately, I’m finding this to be the rule, rather than the exception. Most organizations have no strategy when it comes to content marketing — which means that measuring anything about their content marketing efforts is basically pointless. If we don’t know why we are blogging, or creating content for Facebook, or any other content project, the measurements we take have no meaning in and of themselves. Try this: Make a list of all of channels you create content for. Then, at the top, put “Why?” — i.e., what is the business objective for each one? Then, once you have a clear understanding for why you are engaging in each activity, you can Ask “why” as the first step to measurement start to compile the data that tells you if you are meeting or exceeding your content marketing goals. It really is that simple. Until you understand the “why,” any and all measurements really have no meaning at all... so you might as well not measure anything. (Original publication date: July 4, 2014) 

A few months ago, the CMI team was meeting with the content marketing director of a fairly large brand. She told us a horror story about duplicate content — here’s the gist: One internal group was working on a huge eBook designed for lead generation. It cost the company about $20k to conduct and compile the necessary research and hire multiple experts for the content side. After the eBook was completed, the organization started to become better integrated around the asset of content, and had hired someone to fill the content marketing director role. Once this new hire completed an internal audit, she realized pretty quickly that the majority of eBook research they had just paid for had already existed in-house — and had the same findings. Treat your content as a business asset 

The moral of the story is this: We need to start treating content as an asset in the organization. That means starting to properly tag and categorize content, so that it can be easily found and used for multiple purposes. Put simply: Just make sure you talk to the right people internally before you go off and create all the content for your amazing idea. It happens all the time: We have a content idea, and we immediately go and source the content before finding out if we actually have some of the assets already at our disposal. A simple step like properly classifying your content will save you a lot of money and time. (Original publication date: July 4, 2014) 

A few years back, publishers used to be very protective of their brands and didn’t offer any native opportunities to brands. Today, that’s all changed. It seems every media company on the planet is offering pay-for-play content opportunities on their websites. Whether it’s because of the large revenue opportunity, or the fact that many publishers are struggling with their business models, or that brands have a plethora of content today, native is now en vogue. Honestly, I’m not sure how long publishers will let this happen... so, in the meantime, you should be stealing their audience. Yes, you heard me. Your job (if you choose to accept it) is to leverage native advertising opportunities to steal audience away from your publishing partners and make it your own. It’s your responsibility to look into these opportunities and take that audience as your own. Steal audience from publishers 

Plan native opportunities into your 2015 budget (both the paid media and the content sourcing). Get in front of that audience and dazzle them... then make that audience your own. (Original publication date: July 11, 2014) 

I was at a breakfast meeting this week with Tom Gerace, CEO of Skyword. During our conversation, Tom made this quick side comment: The more great experiences you give your customers, the more disproportionate their loyalty to you. I don’t know if these are Tom’s original words or if it comes from somewhere else, but I love it. Could there be a magic formula for content marketing? How many positive experiences does it take to see real behavior change? Can this be measured? As we’ve done more research, we have continued to find this to be an accurate measurement. If we can get readers to engage in at least four of our various content products, they will be more likely to come to our in-person events. That’s four different kinds of experiences we need to serve up on a consistent basis. (Original publication date: July 18, 2014) Find your “magic experience” 

Stay informed of content marketing trends. For weekly, exclusive insights from Joe, subscribe to The Content Marketing Revolution. If you want more in-depth analysis, check out PNR: This Old Marketing. Our “must listen” weekly podcast with Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose covers a mix of content marketing news, rants/raves and content marketing examples. About Content Marketing Institute (CMI) Content Marketing Institute is the leading global content marketing education and training organization. CMI teaches enterprise brands how to attract and retain customers through compelling, multi-channel storytelling. CMI’s Content Marketing World event, the largest content marketing-focused event, is held every September, and Content Marketing World Sydney, every March. CMI also produces the quarterly magazine Chief Content Officer, and provides strategic consulting and content marketing research for some of the best-known brands in the world. CMI is a 2012, 2013 and 2014 Inc. 500 company. Understand what is shaping the future of content marketing

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