I caught up with CMI’s Chief Strategy Officer Robert Rose, to discuss some of the trends from the survey and their implications for marketers. The conversation looked quite broadly at the state of content marketing today, and we’ve broken it into two parts. We highlighted the biggest challenges facing content marketing. If you saw yourself in any of those points, rest assured you are not alone—but you also don’t have to continue down the same obstacle-laden path ad infinitum.
Start with content, start with: what can I do well right now?
Rose highlights that many marketers have not even dipped their toe into content marketing and promotion simply because the options can be overwhelming.
“One of the reasons I hate the word omni-channel is that it encourages us to be everywhere, and no one can,” says Rose. “We must pick and choose strategically.”
As marketing increasingly focuses on the buyers’ journey, “one man shops” and smaller teams can be facing a mandate that they must produce content for every stage of the journey, every time. The real answer to this challenge, says Rose, is to focus on producing only as much content as you can be great at.
If you’re confused as to where to start, focus on your area of expertise and value and ask yourself where in your existing process does it hurt the most? Are you struggling to generate awareness for your business? Challenged with nurturing leads? Facing high rates of churn? Start there. Develop great content first, then move toward a channels strategy. Once you’ve got that going, you can turn toward building out a paid promotion strategy that makes the most sense for your efforts.
No budget? No excuse.
If you don’t have budget now, start testing your efforts on owned and social channels to inform hypotheses at a micro-level.
Take the data you’ve gleaned from your content efforts on owned and social channels and analyze it to distill your findings down to actionable insights. Based on that information, make a “paid media wish list” and start matching potential channels with existing high-quality content. Ultimately, continued success—and planning for success—starts with an ongoing evaluation of where you were, where you are and where you’d like to be—and what steps you’ve taken to get from A>B and beyond.
Plans grounded in data will help you make a business case for a content promotion budget, or investment from other functional groups.
Mean Girls is so 2004: you can sit with us.
Stop focusing on credit and start focusing on success. Too many businesses have operated on –and suffered from—a siloed model where one hand doesn’t know what the other is doing. Marketing and PR are natural complements when used correctly, and content marketing is perhaps the most convincing case for integrating efforts.
Guess what? Promotion and distribution might be new for your content efforts, but they’re practically ancient concepts for many of your colleagues in PR. Collaborate with the people and teams that have a promotion budget to build a compelling business case for investment. Also, jump on opportunities to insert your content into their traditional product or sales focused efforts.
Measure, test, then invest.
Rose’s previous advice, though applicable to all marketers, will perhaps most resonate with those in the early stages of their content marketing and promotion efforts. The next point, which Rose indicated applies to all spectrum of content marketers, from novice to veteran, is the struggle with measuring efforts and defining success.
Rose suggests that to effectively understand the results of content marketing and promotion efforts, businesses have to move beyond measuring the teams producing content and instead measure the effectiveness of the content itself.
If you want to improve, ask yourself: can you actually measure your efforts in a way that allows for experimentation?
Bottom line: If you want to be a leader and drive increasing returns on your content efforts, you cannot afford to fall prey to what Rose calls “up and to the right syndrome:” always doing what has worked* before and not testing anything. Rose points to Jonathan Mildenhall, currently CEO of Airbnb, who has long advocated a policy of dedicating 70% of resources and efforts toward known (read: effectively guaranteed) wins, 20% toward “out-of-the-box” tests and the final 10% to weird, might exponentially succeed or might exponentially fail efforts. There will always be new channels, but if we can understand our core and at least allow for that 10%, Rose says this is the mandate for PR and marketing today.