Content Marketing Master Class Lesson 1: Content Should Build Value
Robert Rose, chief strategist for the Content Marketing Institute, astutely summed up why so many marketing professionals had gathered at the Content Marketing Master Class in New York City in November. As Rose put it, the fundamental patterns of marketing are changing but marketers are not keeping up. Those pattern changes have been spurred by the dramatic rise of content marketing as a powerful tool for reaching and compelling customers to act.
Content marketing has proven difficult, if not confounding, for many brands as it requires a new set of skills (such as storytelling and audience building), and is a business function that must fit into the overall organizational structure in ways that challenge traditional marketing functions. At the Content Marketing Master Class, a one-day workshop that is currently touring six cities nationwide, Rose, CMI founder Joe Pulizzi, and a host of other speakers offered the know-how brands need to create exceptional content that will engage audience and grow business.
Over the next few weeks, we're going to bring you four main lessons from the Content Marketing Master Class. Here's the first:
Lesson 1: Content Marketing Should Build Value
Robert Rose started the day’s conversation by stepping back and looking at what marketing is supposed to do. Rose referenced Arch Shaw — one of the first practitioners of the modern marketing profession, as well as an entrepreneur, Harvard professor, and founder of what would become Business Week.
Shaw identified “marketing utilities,” or ways marketing can add value to a business instead of just act as a middleman (or problem) that stands between the product and the consumer. Some examples of utility are “possession utility” (transactions enabling customers to use products for both stated and desired purposes) or “insight utility” (research from marketplace to help decide attributes for the goods and services.
Rose identified the utilities that he thinks content marketing can and should provide.
- Business Value: help the business run more effectively
- Data Value: help enable decisions on how to sell products better
- Campaign Value: help shorten time to get product to market
- Customer Value: content enabling customers to more effectively use goods
Rose says that content marketing should create value, not just describe it. “Content, well managed and used strategically, is he one thing that can provide all of those things to a business,” said Rose.
Some examples of content marketing initiatives that generate value cited by Rose were Food & Family Magazine by Kraft (a marketing program that pays for itself and is useful to consumers), Red Bull Media House (a revenue source in its own right), or the Robert Half Salary Guides (which gets millions of downloads and positions the company as a leading authority on salary.)
So if creating value is the high-level objective of content marketing, then how do marketers achieve that goal?
According to Rose, achieving success with content marketing programs require aligning business and content marketing objectives so they’re running in step, repositioning the content marketing function, and changing how content marketing efforts are communicated and used within an organization.
Underpinning all of that is a robust strategy, processes and measurement.
For many companies, content marketing programs don’t achieve their full potential because they are disconnected efforts being executed on islands and without strategies aligned with business objectives. Often once someone decides it’s important to do content marketing, a bunch of potential assets are identified and produced (white papers, blogs, some research or surveys) and you end up with a disconnected pile of content assets. Then various divisions or stakeholders put in orders for content marketing assets. Eventually, all these assets are dumped into a resource center on a company’s website, where content marketing essentially goes to die. Rose said with this approach you’re “unable to measure the efficacy of the program because it’s just supporting demand.”
In short, there is no strategy, no value being created for the organization, and no ROI.