Content Marketing Is The New Advertising

Content Marketing Is The New Advertising

The folks at Social Media Examiner are presently running the first edition of the Content Success Summit, a four weeks long smorgasbord of leading-edge webinars with industry experts such as Michael Stelzner, Ann Handley, Gini Dietrich, Amy Porterfield and many more. After the first week, I thought I would share some learnings coming mostly from the keynote session given by Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, as well as from the Mark W. Schaefer, author of Return on Influence and The Tao of Twitter.

HISTORY OF CONTENT MARKETING

While it may seem that content is a nascent marketing function, truth is people and brands have been using content to drive people towards action through compelling storytelling for decades, if not centuries. John Deere has been publishing its own magazine The Furrow for almost a century now, and you can think of Kraft and its What’s Cooking magazine among other examples of custom publishing.

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BRANDS NOW HAVE DUAL MARKETING ROLES

One thing that now seems clear is that brands today have two roles: they need to use savvy marketing with their own product through channel distribution, sales tactics and other marketing strategies relevant to their industry and niche. They also need to think and act as publishers, putting a growing emphasis on owned media rather than investing traditionally through paid media. In both presentations, the examples of Coca-Cola and Red Bull were given as the quintessence of managing well owned platforms to push content that is not, at first glance, always related to the product. In fact, in many cases, it’s simply creating awareness and working on brand positioning as market leaders.

This Coca-Cola video explains their shift from being a creative leader to a content leader. As Mark W. Schaefer also showed during his presentation, Coca-Cola even goes so far as including dissenting opinions about their strategy… on their own blog!

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CONTENT MARKETING CHALLENGES FOR BRANDS

One of the most important takeaways from Joe Pullizi’s keynote session is the need for brands to have a content marketing mission statement in place. This involves defining:

  1. Core target audience
  2. What will be delivered
  3. The outcome for the audience

A great example is the content marketing mission statement developed by Inc. online magazine:

Inc.com content marketing mission statement

Who is their core target audience? Entrepreneurs and business owners. What will be delivered? Useful information, advice, insights and resources. What is the outcome for the audience? Getting the resources and inspiration to run and grow their business.

THE 5 OBSTACLES TO CONTENT MARKETING

According to Mark W. Schaefer, every company will basically come across five common land mines to some extent or another, as detailed in the visual below:

5 land mines in every company to create content

Source: Mark W. Schaefer

Budget can certainly be an issue, in particular when there is no buy-in at the C-level. Since content marketing is a long-term investment, it can sometimes be difficult to demonstrate results quickly, so budgets tend to go to shiny tools, TV ads or big outdoor billboards that seem to have impact. Return on investment, or ROI, is certainly important but it needs to be put into perspective of the role being played by content marketing. As social media, blogging and other content marketing initiatives are demanding more and more resources, the need to demonstrate return on those efforts will continue to be a challenge. The tech side of things represents a challenge whereby how do you integrate increasing streams of data coming from various customer touch points, whether it’s the corporate blog, call centre, social media accounts, and so on? A similar challenge can come from legal, where content is no longer controlled and coming from a single department, i.e. Public Affairs, Communications. With collaborative content creation, real-time communications are making approval procedures antiquated so organizations need to adapt. Last but not least, corporate culture also needs to adapt in order to be social, rather than to do social. This means ongoing training will be required, hiring practices revisited and having a social media policy in place to provide guidelines.

CONTENT MARKETING, BRANDING AND ADVERTISING

So where does content marketing fit into a brand’s equation and marketing budgets? To some, content marketing is the new advertising, meaning more and more brands ought to shift budgets towards owned media rather than invest in ephemeral campaigns on paid media. Not sure everybody can do like Coca-Cola or Red Bull, yet they invest large sums into their endeavors so it becomes more of a strategic approach rather than strictly a budget allocation matter. Many brands still invest in a 30 seconds spot during the Super Bowl, yet you will also see them spread the buzz days before via Youtube and social media. Finally, Chris Brogan recently wrote that Content Marketing is Not Branding, and he makes some very valid points. A must-read!

It will be interesting to see these aspects hopefully addressed during the next three weeks of Content Success Summit. Feel free to share or comment in the section below.


Frederic Gonzalo
Written by Frederic Gonzalo

Senior marketing and communications expert & speaker with 18 years expertise in the travel and hospitality industry. Consulting since early 2012, I provide strategic planning, social media & mobile development counseling to small and medium businesses alike. Reach me at frederic@gonzomarketing.biz

8 comments
CarolLynnRivera
CarolLynnRivera

I'm attending the event and I thought Joe's opener was the best part of the first week. He really focused on the core of content marketing, not just about using this channel or that channel. His focus on the mission statement was one of the biggest takeaways for me. This was a really good summary of events so far. If I wasn't attending I would want to1

Adi Gaskell
Adi Gaskell

I appreciate this may be slightly left field, but how does content marketing work for a conference style event?  We already have a huge amount of content delivered for free via blogs, white papers, videos and so on.

 

Is it increasingly the case that content producers are following the model adopted by the music industry? ie that the content itself is mainly used to build an audience, and the profit is gained by getting people paying to watch a live performance?

gonzogonzo
gonzogonzo moderator

@Curtman40 Valid point, indeed. There are obviously differences in how big and small organizations tackle content marketing yet it's funny to see how challenges remain pretty much the same: lack of time, fear of not having enough content, questions regarding ROI, etc.

Budgets may be harder to justify in a bigger organization, since ROI is much more difficult to prove. A smaller company will see direct impact of Facebook, Twitter ot blog posts, either through buzz, leads converting or direct sales. But for the smaller companies, time is of the essence, and since it usually takes time before social media and content marketing actions gain traction, many quit before they can reap the rewards.

Either way, tough challenges but both can mae headway if they stick to it.

gonzogonzo
gonzogonzo moderator

 @CarolLynnRivera Thanks for the feedback! I also think the mission statement is a huge takeaway: I mean, how many brands really take the time to craft a content marketing mission statement? Yet, it really helps crystallizing the approach and focus how and where content should go.

Cheers,

Frederic

gonzogonzo
gonzogonzo moderator

 @ginidietrich LOL! Well, ok, perhaps I did add a little bit of context and inserted some additional information to make this post more digestible...

Looking forward to your presentation, Gini ;-)

Cheers,

Frederic

gonzogonzo
gonzogonzo moderator

 @Adi Gaskell Your comment is not far-fetched, Adi. In fact, I believe we are indeed seeing more and more of this "free content" being spread via blogs and social media. The hard sell, or revenue generation then comes from books for authors or conferences for thought-leaders and industry experts.

Not sure it applies to all industries, though, as retail or B2B would not necessarily rely on conferences or live performances to earn sales, content itself playing a more traditional role of bringing people online or at a point-of-sale.

 

Cheers,

Frederic