I reached out to Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, author of Epic Content Marketing, and the impresario behind Content Marketing World, and asked if he had any content marketing predictions for 2014.
He told me that he had a prediction which was actually a wish: that content marketers the world over would finally see the importance of developing a content marketing strategy to guide their content marketing efforts.
Why is this a wish rather than a prediction? Well, as Joe told me, "Even though content marketing has been around for a hundred plus years, we're still in the early adoption phase."
No Documented Content Marketing Strategy
One indicator that we have "a little ways to go," as Joe says, is that, according to a recent study conducted by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, only 44% of marketers surveyed actually have a documented content marketing strategy.
Content marketing, in one form or another, is fairly ubiquitous at this point. Given that, it's fairly astonishing to think that more than half the folks doing it have no specific business objectives, no clear sense of how all this content is going to get produced, or even how its ill-defined success is going to be measured!
I was curious to learn more about what a content marketing strategy should actually cover, what gets in the way when one sets about creating one, and, if the task seems daunting, where someone should start. To satisfy my curiosity, I got Joe on the Skypes and recorded the conversation posted below.
My Interview with Joe Pulizzi
I invite you to listen to my whole conversation with Joe but, if you're pressed for time or have misplaced your earbuds, here are some choice cuts:
On where we are at (2:49): "We are producing a ton of content, [across] tons of different channels—webinars, white papers, blog posts, whatever the case might be; there's more every day—but yet, do we have a defined business strategy behind that content and do we have the processes in place for an efficient use of that content? Do we know actually what we are measuring behind that content? The answer, for the most part, is 'no.'"
On the basic business objectives your content should influence (5:29): "If you're creating content or curating content or whatever your plans are to do, all the metrics and things you're going to look at have to funnel up into three things: Is it driving revenue for the company? Is it saving the company money in some way? Or is it creating happier customers?"
On content marketing "campaigns" (9:20): "Don't say 'content marketing campaign,' because if you say 'campaign,' you're saying that there is an end date and there is no end date when it comes to content marketing. It's a marathon, not a sprint. It takes a long time."
On setting high standards for your content (10:14): "I really believe that if you are going to be serious about content marketing in your organization... you have to be best of breed. You have to set that goal."
On the "magic bullet" question (13:31): "The question to ask is, once you get a group of subscribers that engage in your content—this is the magic bullet question—What's different between those people that engage in your content, whatever that might be, versus those that don't?" (In Joe's case, he went on to add that the people who engage in his content "buy more stuff!")
On taking a step-wise, iterative approach to developing your strategy (18:49): "Go for the low-hanging fruit. You're not going to go in with a content marketing approach and say, 'Oh, I'm a content believer now! We're changing everything! We're going to rip apart everything and put it back new!' No! Please don't do that! You will get fired!"
Have a listen!
The above covers just a bit of what Joe and I discussed. If you would like to hear it all, you may do so below.
Even if you don't listen, though, how would you answer the question: What am I doing to create AND implement my content marketing strategy?
About the Author: Matthew T. Grant is Aquent's Director of Content Strategy.