September 6th was a coming out party for content marketing. Over 600 marketing professionals came together in Cleveland from 18 different countries for Content Marketing World (the largest content marketing event) to learn how to create and grow their own publishing and storytelling platforms.
Yes, you heard that right. Marketers are actively trying to figure out how to do your job…publish valuable, relevant and compelling content to build subscriber bases and ultimately sell more products and services.
Content marketing is not new. You used to (or still do) call it custom media or custom content or custom publishing. Your advertisers now call it content marketing.
Your customers have been publishing content for years. Just look at John Deere. Their magazine The Furrow has been published since 1895 and is now distributed to more than 40 countries to 1.5 million subscribers. But now that the barriers to enter the publishing industry are all but gone, marketers are swiftly moving to allocate more resources to communicating directly with their customers and taking out the middleman (uh, you).
Just look at American Express and their wildly successful small business publishing effort, Open Forum. How about P&G, which has multiple publishing platforms including HomeMadeSimple.com for “moms on the go”, BeingGirl.com for adolescent teen girls, or ManOfTheHouse.com for guys.
According to research from the Content Marketing Institute, nine out of 10 organizations are actively using some form of content marketing, with approximately 25% of marketing budget and resources dedicated to these efforts.
The Content Marketing World event shed some light on where the industry is going and ultimately what it means for publishers and media companies.
• Brands of all Sizes Are Operationalizing around Content. Marketing executives like Pam Didner from Intel and Todd Wheatland from Kelly Services shared in-depth details about how content creation and distribution is becoming the center of their marketing efforts. For Intel, they develop “Topic Marketing Kits” that include content missions for each of their customers, then they distribute those to individual editorial boards all over the world for localization. This effort is helping to drive attention and engagement for Intel through search engine optimization, social media, public relations and co-marketing activities. This is no small endeavor and is taking massive organization and resources, much of which are coming out of traditional programs.
• The Chief Content Officer has arrived. More than 20% of the marketing titles attending the event are new “content-oriented” titles, including: VP of Content Marketing, Chief Content Officer, Content Strategist, Content Marketing Coordinator, Brand Journalist and more. These people are responsible for the brand story, and how to integrate that story within the entire organization. Who are these people? Many of them are your former chief editors or writers.
• Real-Time Content Marketing is Now. In multiple sessions from the likes of David Meerman Scott and organizations like Eloqua and Dell, content strategies are being setup to manage real-time content creation. This means that brands are starting to act like news organizations, taking advantage of current industry events with immediate commentary and thought leadership. Who are they hiring to do this? You guessed it…journalists.
• Content Marketing Technologies are Exploding. The majority of attendees at Content Marketing World never heard of 90% of the technology vendors at the show. Most of these technologies are less than two years old and moving to take advantage of the money flow into content marketing. Almost across the board, these technologies are helping marketers to manage the editorial process within the organization. Think of it…how do you organize an employee blog with over 1,000 contributors? No easy task.
• Not Just Outsourcing, but Content Strategy. There continues to be strong opportunity for publishers to work with brands on helping them execute content strategies. That said, the biggest pain for marketers is not execution, it’s strategy. Publishers that are setting up marketing services arms that understand how to develop a content strategy, including content audits, gap analyses, and total integration of the story within the entire marketing programs are going to win out. While custom publishing used to be a separate, often siloed effort like a custom magazine or webinar, tomorrow’s content strategies wrap into social media, search, PR and run across marketing, corporate communication, PR, social media and even IT departments. To prove the point, on three separate occasions recently, agency of record (AOR) with some large international brands recently went to content agencies.
Traditional marketing is not going away. It never will. Marketers will continue to spend money using a megaphone or shotgun advertising when needed, especially in newer industries. But now, since consumers are completely in control of the informational gathering process (the sales role is changing dramatically), brands need content consistently, matched to their buyer personas, and they need it at multiple points in the buying process. They need it for social, for PR, for enewsletters, for print, for in-person events, for SEO, for mobile and for their internal stakeholders. To do this effectively, they need to develop subscribers, just like you do, to position themselves as the industry leaders and be there for customers when they are ready to buy.
For publishers, the opportunity to partner with brands on these initiatives is clear. What will you do?