Content (Is) King: Robert Rose on Content Marketing
So that's the key. Now, of course, many businesses have recognized this and started content "programs". But these are usually one off projects that don't scale and are hard to manage. This is why education on this approach is so important. It's not to understand what content IS. It's to understand how to manage and scale it as a differentiating function in the business.
TM: What are the cornerstones of a successful content marketing strategy?
RR: There are really two—remarkable content, and a codified, well-understood plan. We see this year after year in our research—where those that are seeing success in content marketing have a written plan, a content mission and a process that is well understood in the business. Those that don't, treat content as a by-product of what marketing produces—basically fodder for search engines and the chaff thrown by sales departments desperately trying to nurture leads.
This is something we address in our workshops and advisory as a key point. We understand that businesses know how to create content. But what they don't know how to do (usually) is get beyond the "features and benefits" of product marketing copy, and actually create differentiated value with their content. It truly changes the scope of what marketing does for a living—and it's big, it's scary—and it's chock full of change.
TM: How open should marketers be with their content? Should it be free or gated? On their own sites or on outside sites?
RR: I don't believe it's an either/or question on any of those options. A great strategy integrates all of those methods. For example, a great piece of content that deserves to be gated should be gated. But perhaps the first quarter of that white paper—or the blog post describing it—is free and ungated.
This is where thinking like a media company really comes to play. What pieces of content are we giving away, and what pieces should we "monetize" by making it available only after registration? And it also begs the question of content re-use: Why can it not be gated for six months, then moved to an ungated place? Or, why can we not create the white paper on our site, but then write a guest post describing the research for the white paper (with an associated link) on another site?