Photo by Pascal Maramis.
Photo by Pascal Maramis.

You’ve embraced that you have to create content.

You’ve embraced that the content you create must be worthy of attention due to its inherent usefulness, relevancy and/or entertainment value.

But what you haven’t fully embraced is the reality of today’s hyper-competitive marketing environment:


Not the kind of poems you awkwardly scribbled on your Trapper Keeper as a semi-secret ode to middle school heartthrobs. I’m talking modern-day marketing POEMs:

  • Paid
  • Owned
  • Earned
  • Media

You’ve heard it takes a village to raise a child? I’m telling you it takes a POEM to build a successful content marketing program. The days of being able to “build it and they will come” are OVER. There is too much informational flotsam and jetsam floating around for that to work. If you want to succeed, you can’t just rely on your mad infographic skillz to make it happen.

As I wrote about in my book Youtility, you have to “Market Your Marketing” and the POEM is how you do it.

The Big O

You already understand the O part of the equation: owned. The content you create (which undoubtedly lives on your website) is owned media. But that’s just table-stakes.

P is for Performance

Paid content amplification is a multi-billion dollar business, and growing fast because smart content creators and strategists like you recognize that without the visibility boost that paid provides, even good content can be manifestly ignored. Paid is also being fueled by how easy it is to amplify content now using networks like Outbrain, Taboola, and Stumble, and aggregators like Cision, and others.

E is for Effort

What we’ll see throughout the rest of 2014 and into next year is an increasing emphasis on earned media on behalf of content marketing programs. This is because earned currently offers market inequities that are being squeezed out of paid.

You’ve seen the film or read the book, or are otherwise familiar with the principle of Moneyball, right? It’s the concept that exploiting gaps in information and knowledge is the way to succeed disproportionate to economic resources. It works in sports, and it works in business as well.

Paid was a Moneyball play for a while, because not every company knew about it and you could exploit that and make your content disproportionately successful as an early adopter. SlideShare was a Moneyball play at one point. So was Google + (maybe it still is). Infographics were 100 percent Moneyball for a time. But the cat is out of the bag on all of that. Smart marketers must seek the next Moneyball angle within the POEM framework; and it’s earned media.

Earned is where you use media relations, influencer and advocate outreach, and high engagement/sharing ratios to spread your content marketing far and wide. It’s not as easy as paid, where you can use software and a credit card to hide the fact that your content isn’t that great. Earned is the hardest to do, which is why it still features inequities that can be used to your advantage.

Content Marketing is Really Integrated Marketing

What all of this means—the emphasis on POEM and the importance of Moneyball principles—is that content marketing isn’t really a “thing” at all. It’s just integrated marketing in the modern age. The content is just a vessel for that multifaceted approach.

Start thinking of your content marketing strategy not as a production challenge, but as a distribution challenge. You’ll find you’re closer to being in the media business than you think.