First off, since this is my first blog post for GMG, I thought I would share how thrilled I am to be working with Leah and her team. I have known Leah for quite some time and have always been extremely impressed with both her strategic skills and her ability to rapidly operationalize that strategy and get results. I am looking forward to contributing to her team’s efforts, particularly in a few key areas that I have had a great deal of experience.
One of those areas is in Content Marketing. It’s certainly the hot, trendy term of the day. All of us are at least in some way thinking about how to use content to tell a better story, to better engage with prospects, and guide buyers through an increasingly complex buyers journey.
I find it fascinating, however, to see how quickly the theory of what “pure content marketing” should be has evolved almost to the realm of fantasy, and out of the reach of most of us grounded-in-today’s-reality marketers. To wit: I had a Twitter exchange recently with a writer for whom I have the utmost respect. He made the case that it is wrong to blur the lines between the pure form of content marketing–loosely defined by the ideal of telling a good story, and allowing that story to create engagement on its own merits; with the more active form of marketing–where we use that content to create defined engagement and actively work to pull these prospects through the funnel to become customers.
The dichotomy described here is captured perfectly in this MarketingProfs article by Joe Chernov: http://www.marketingprofs.com/articles/2013/9862/how-to-avoid-false-choices-in-content-marketing. In it, he talks about the move from Eloqua where he could take a more purist approach, to Kinvey, where he needed to make sure he paid the bills.
I suspect that many of you are grappling with this very issue. I also suspect that many of you, like me, do not have an unlimited budget, and need to justify the cost of your programs against the project impact on the business. I wrote this article also on MarketingProfs to provide a few practical ways to measure content marketing: http://www.marketingprofs.com/articles/2013/10775/how-to-gauge-the-power-and-value-of-your-content-marketing.
I do not know which way the true definition of “Content Marketing” will ultimately lean. But I am sure the debate will rage for quite some time about the ideal vs the practical. In the end, whether you are simply focused on using content to achieve better marketing, or pursuing a higher ideal–your content strategy should be at the heart of your marketing strategy. In future posts I will discuss in more depth some practical approaches I have used to get started and optimize your effort. In the meantime, feel free to contact us (/contact/) to set up a short content strategy audit engagement to help jumpstart your efforts.