All enterprises, from small businesses and startups to large corporations, struggle with content marketing. From how to produce enough content, what the right kind of content is and how to create a cohesive strategy around that content, it’s critical to not only know the value of the content itself but the impetus behind it. At the Content Marketing Master Class in Austin on Tuesday, Dec. 1, less than 48 hours ago, experts shared how to leverage content marketing as more than just another piece of marketing.
Robert Rose, Chief Strategist, Content Marketing Institute, took the helm for most of the day, echoing what the room full of marketers at the Hilton in Downtown Austin were struggling to do. “We’re all creating more content. If we’re not in meetings, we’re creating content,” he said. But it’s never just one asset that provides strategic value for a company; it’s the collection of assets.
Typically, content marketers are told to create assets, according to Rose. So they do: four white papers a year, blog posts, a webinar and other materials. They churn out content and end up with a disconnected pile of assets that ends up being collateral for sales and demand generation, but it isn’t a cohesive content marketing program. Some of it’s good, he said, but it’s not woven into any larger initiative.
What marketers need to do, he said, is to begin with the end in mind. A content marketing program should build toward something, like a resource center. Each white paper or other asset would complement the next and the previous, so that it’s not just a bucket of assets. It becomes a library where prospects and customers can understand more than just the product but the problems and solutions that drive the need for the product.
“We break the pattern today,” Rose said. That means thinking of content marketing as a process. The process depends on the size of the company: a Matrix-like siloed large company, a small company or a mid-level manufacturer. But the process needs to change; content marketers need to make the case for content to exist as a strategic function in business, reducing the amount of content in some cases to focus on quality and efficacy in the marketplace.
Rose then took attendees through the three models of content marketing programs, some of which are more effective than others. He offered five steps to building a strategic plan, took participants through four deep-dive exercises, and offered recommended reading:
- For those interested in plot, storylines and other fiction elements to add, try The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd Edition.
- For marketers looking for a project management perspective that can help with content marketing, read Discovery-Driven Growth: A Breakthrough Process to Reduce Risk and Seize Opportunity.
- To foster an entrepreneurial spirit in the content marketing department, check out The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses.
For those that missed it, mark your calendars for September 6-9, 2016, when Content Marketing World descends upon Cleveland. Flights from IAH to CLE are reasonable. If a trip the week after Labor Day isn’t in the cards, consider online training from the Content Marketing Institute.