Soul-Searching on My Content Marketing Imperatives of 2014
Marketing Content Strategy

Soul-Searching on My Content Marketing Imperatives of 2014

Have you ever been asked for real, serious career advice? The kind of advice that leads someone to quit a current job, guides a young person to his or her calling, or persuades a friend toward one company over another? One year later, are you able to face the person who took your advice? Can you stand by what you said, confirm what was right, and apologize for what was wrong?

Today, I realize that outlining content marketing imperatives is a huge burden. People expect you to share your experience as a professional, as well as the ins and outs of your specialty. Making that information available is the first challenge. Knowing that your advice and experiences may lead some people astray is more difficult to accept. Anyone who has offered advice should do some honest soul-searching and validate what they’ve said.

Early this year, readers of the Skyword blog came looking for content marketing imperatives. They wanted a set of mantras that would get them through the year. Here’s what I had to offer back in January:

  1. Content strategy will galvanize leading organizations to transform the way they do business and talk to their customers.
  2. A majority of business will codify a content strategy.
  3. An assortment of creative tools and processes will make it into the digital marketer’s playbook.

And here’s my honest reaction to that advice today:

Transforming the Organization


This is happening, and it’s incredibly inspiring. The early adopters (B2B marketers) have seen great success, and that success has brought them the confidence to scale their original content creation. Enterprise content marketing has taken hold at companies like IBM and Western Digital. Both companies have taken on the monumental task of creating news publications to draw new audiences. And as a result, they have been reinvigorated and seen real return on investment (ROI) from their content. Today, they are trying to operationalize their individual content successes and expand to new divisions and new global markets.

A Majority of Businesses Make It Up As They Go

Content strategy is not everywhere. At Content Rising Boston, we learned from Clare McDermott, editor of Chief Content Officer magazine, that even today’s top marketing executives are—like Agador Spartacus in The Birdcage—often “making it up.”

In business, it’s almost sacrilegious to act without a plan. Having a plan means having solid expectations for profit, a team with compartmentalized responsibilities, and a budget in place. So it would be nice and it would be validating to say that a majority of marketers have a content strategy laid out.

Unfortunately, they do not. But research shows that those marketers with a plan are much more likely to feel effective in their work and more likely to continue creating original content.


More Creative Tools in the Digital Marketing Playbook

It turns out that creative tools can be fun, exciting, and useful for content marketers who often find themselves in the role of content creator. We published a list of tools for content marketing here. However, I may have underestimated the content marketing imperatives of proving ROI—and if I had it to do all over again, ROI tools would edge out creative tools.

Marketing automation and customer relationship management (CRM) tools are the content marketer’s best friends. We’ve written specifically about how the right infrastructure helps content marketers identify and prioritize content-driven leads, create more touch points with the lead database, and view content performance and results. Attribution and tying content to closed deals is the ultimate goal of any content marketer. This means creating a strong bond between the content team and the demand generation marketing team. This great resource written by Pawan Deshpande collects the most important content marketing analytics and metrics available.

What I Should Have Written

The prospects for content marketers are constantly improving. We have an increasing number of successes under our belts and mentors at top global brands. But among the most important content marketing imperatives I should have stressed is following the money. Through a mix of different metrics and comparisons, Kraft Foods is able to proclaim that its content marketing brings in four times the ROI of traditional advertising. The lens of how content compares to advertising impressions might be new to B2B marketers who focus solely on closed, won business. But as we finish out 2014, I would advise each of us to examine traditional measures of ROI and determine how the value of content can be shown through each organic engagement and impression that otherwise would have been paid for.

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