News Update :

Marketers Must Do "Content Marketing"

Monday, January 10, 2011

It’s hard to work around the Internet without recognizing its endless appetite for content of all kinds. I’ve long told marketers that they have to “repurpose” content. Grammatical correctness aside, marketers cannot create entirely new content for each occasion, each channel. They need to repurpose the good content they have in one channel for use in other channels. Some of that is very simple—posting a TV ad on YouTube, for example. Others require more effort—creating a B2B webinar, for example. Both have one thing in common. There is already a great deal of content in almost all companies—on or off the web. The requirement is to identify it and repurpose it for other significant channels.

Joe Chernov’s Content Grid gives an indication of the complex possibilities of content channels today. It suggests several strategic issues. There are some types of content that are best used in the early (awareness) stages of the buying decision process and some better used later when the subject is moving closer to making a decision (consideration). There is also some content which is going to have single author/small group authorship (centralization). Some content is inherently multi-authored (decentralized). Some content should be under the careful control of corporate staff; some is open for comment or co-creation by external readers.

That still begs the question of what content marketing is. Here’s a definition from Joe Pulizzi, founder of Junta42:

Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience - with the objective of driving profitable customer action. . . content marketing is the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling.

In another blog post, he describes content marketing as editorial-based, marketing-backed, behavior-driven, multi-platform and targeted.

It’s not about fluffy advertising messages; it is about content that adds value to the use of your product and therefore to your customer’s life.

There’s a final important issue related to content marketing—it’s not “one size fits all.” As Chernov’s grid indicates, potential customers at different stages in the buying process need different information. Early in the process a potential customer who is unfamiliar with your company and your products needs content that builds trust. When the prospect is getting close to making a decision she needs more specific information, perhaps a video demo of how the product can be used. Making a strategic assessment of how much content, to whom and when is the purpose of a content map. This map is stated in B2B terms, but it can easily be adapted to B2C.

A interesting example is Best Buy’s On network that went live in selected retail stores last week. The Best Buy On website has been up for awhile. It has a lot of product content that looks as if it might come from manufacturers, but it also produces its own exclusive content and takes advertising. The content, complete with ads, is now appearing in Best Buy stores. According to a Best Buy spokesperson speaking to BrandWeek :

The objective isn’t promotional, it’s around engagement with the product category or entertainment,” Bryan said. “Our quid pro quo with advertisers isn’t about [point-of-sale] lift. It’s a media placement.” Taking that approach, Best Buy On has managed to draw advertisers who don’t sell any products in stores, such as Procter & Gamble’s Swiffer mop and Tide’s energy-efficient detergents. Other advertisers, however, are the type you’d expect, including Panasonic, LG and Bose.

That’s interesting, but I think Stephen Shepard, dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York summed it up best in a recent Ad Age article (subscription required). He said, "If they do a good job of it, it's welcome. I don't mind reading something from Best Buy, if it's fair and informative and honest."

That sums up the promise of content marketing; it will attract people who are looking for products you offer—or who will be someday! The degree to which it is persuasive will be determined by how informative and balanced it is and by the marketer’s ability to produce an ongoing stream of relevant content.
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