A year ago, putting our professional heads together, my colleague Jake Sorofman and I began exploring (what was then) the nascent world of content marketing. Without a roadmap to predict where it was heading, we focused on such elemental advice as encouraging marketers to “think like publishers” (subscription required) and other similar blockings and tackling pointers. Jake’s background as a CMO and mine as a media sort allowed us to converge our thinking to provide some baseline thinking about content marketing as well as some vision to possible industry trajectories.
As I sift through the countless reflections and predictions that emerge from commercial advisors as well as the everyman blogosphere, the consensus is that content marketing remains a work in progress and that one of the biggest priorities should be the integrate content marketing into an overall business strategy. A few pundits echo/recycle our thought that marketers need to think like publishers. But, one year later, I am not so sure that’s sound advice. More on that a few paragraphs down the road.
For 2014, Jake and I are emphasizing ROI, measurement, ties to digital commerce (yes, that’s part of ROI) and I’d like to re-emphasize the value of opinion or point of view. A sustainable stream of dissociated pictures, posts, Tweets, videos and quips may be vital to a content marketing strategy, but as a homogenized flow of meaningless chum its impact on consumers is trivial at best. Aligning your assets around a point of view, stance on an issue of the day (hopefully related to your industry) or opinion goes much further to create stickiness and virality. This is not to suggest digital marketers should create controversy for the sake of getting attention, the point here is that themes and memes that actually stand for something will help a brand or marketers get its point across far better than bland, vanilla-tasting content.
And who should be taking the lead in creating these topical torrents? My sense is that hiring a journalist could have value as your develop your initial editorial workflow and discipline, but in order to develop powerful points of views that echo genuine brand resonance, that voice will need to come from someone on the front line. Someone who has a lot of skin in the game and someone who has touched customers in various settings and someone whose words are more than empty slogans and promises.
I can guarantee your brand has at least one such person. Finding him or her and encouraging them to add their voice to your content marketing efforts might take some convincing, but the end result will be worth it.