Forget the rhetoric, the bravado and bluster: content marketing is about one thing, and one thing only. Audience. Building, growing and nurturing a valuable business asset. Robert Rose, co-founder of the Content Marketing Institute, discusses why content marketing is in need of a serious reboot.
For content marketing to make a major impact for brands we’ve got to reboot the whole practice, elevating the conversation from ‘marketing’ to ‘business’ says Robert Rose, co-founder of the Content Marketing Institute.
Ahead of delivering his keynote at the B2B Marketing Forum in Sydney later this year, Rose says if brands just look at content marketing as a marketing tactic, its impact is going to be limited. Instead, it needs to be viewed from top down as a business strategy that marketing people perform.
“Content marketing needs to be viewed as a total business strategy that makes everything you do better, by building the asset that really matters to a business: an audience,” he says. “That’s what content marketing delivers. The content is purely a bridge to build the relationship.”
Many businesses across the world have tried content marketing to some degree or another. However it’s primarily not been led by the C-suite, so the true potential business impact often hasn’t been clarified, understood and communicated throughout the business. This often means content is viewed on its own merits, rather than a conduit to a much greater, more valuable business outcome.
“If you’re looking at content as the commodity it just becomes an alternate form of advertising,” says Rose. “Sometimes it works and it works okay, but the value of it flattens out very quickly.
“Then, as soon as it takes a little longer, or is a little more expensive to create that wonderful piece of content than it is a banner ad, people go ‘Wait a minute! If all this is is just a more expensive, alternative form of advertising, why shouldn’t I just do advertising?’
“Once you start having pressure to create more commoditised content, you’re going to decrease the cost of production of content. You’ll get into this never-ending vicious cycle of a chase down to the bottom where you end up hiring some kid at two cents a word to write a blog post and wondering why nobody cares about it.”
The key to rebooting, to ensuring content marketing ‘works’, is to make certain it’s a business strategy conversation, rather than a tactical marketing one. But how do you do that?
To illustrate, Rose relays a conversation he recently had with a B2B CEO.
“A B2B CEO came up to me recently and the conversation went something like this:
‘Tell me why I should do content marketing.’
‘Well, tell me about your marketing database right now.’
‘We have 25,000 email addresses.’
‘So you have 25,000 email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org?
‘Yeah there’s some of that.’
‘What if I replace those 25,000 email addresses with a 10,000 strong database, but instead of just email you had first names, last names, company names, as well as their industry, zip code, phone number, email, and specific details about their role and their challenges? And not only did you get that data from them, they wanted to give it to you. It’s not something that you extracted from the white paper you gave them, some transactional thing. They wanted to give it to you because you gave them such value that they wanted to get more stuff from you. They subscribed to you.”
‘Well yeah that would be way more valuable.’
‘Great, that’s exactly why you should do content marketing. You’re making your organisation smarter by using content and a content marketing approach to make your data better, to make your sales guys smarter, to make your product people know what product features they should be adding and so on and so on and so on.’
Robert Rose is delivering a keynote entitled Transforming Strategic Content: Marketing at a Profit at the B2B Marketing Leaders’ Forum APAC, which takes place on 16-18 May in Sydney.
Additionally, Robert is hosting an exclusive full-day workshop on Thursday 18 May. Only 24 places at the workshop remain, so register now to make sure you have all of the skills and knowledge you need for your content marketing to build a truly valuable business asset.