The Mindset Shift Needed for Successful Content Marketing
When it comes to effective marketing strategies, content is the new way forward, with UK marketers now allocating 31% of total marketing spend on producing content. Whether it is small businesses using social media or Google launching their “Think Quarterly” publication, every marketer wants in. But an average of 27,000,000 pieces of content are shared each day. So unless you have a strategy to cut through the noise that trumps everyone else’s, you are pretty much throwing your marketing budget down the drain.
Being honest, you can only cut through the noise if you’re willing to adopt a publisher’s approach – placing the reader at the centre. That’s because when it comes to producing content, publishing values trump marketing values – relevant, engaging content is inherent in the very philosophy and execution of the business of publishing. Marketing blogger Greg Satell has been backing this stance for a while: “In reality, successful marketers must attain three core objectives: awareness, sales and advocacy. Successful publishers, on the other hand, have one: build a meaningful relationship with the audience.” That’s why the goals and approach of publishers are so valuable to marketers who can get out of their own way when building a content strategy. Creating content that is unique, thought-provoking, exciting, intelligent, educational and high impact whets the appetites of the target audience and builds the kind of engagement publishers get every day – the kind of engagement worth gold dust to marketers. What VPs of Marketing and CMOs therefore need to internalise, and become so convinced of that getting the rest of the C-Suite on board becomes a matter of great ease, is that it’s not really “thought leadership” if you’re just doing what everyone else is doing.
As Raconteur publish several special reports that touch on the impact of “Big Data”, I understand that it can be tempting to feel pressurised by the “race for ROI” and lead generation expected by C-suite executives. But as a CEO myself, I also know that moving the commercial needle takes serious ingenuity – certainly more than just digital ad campaigns or average content. And, as a publisher, I know that high impact, high value publishing done by brands is precisely what is needed to raise the bar and garner serious interest.
Adopting an editorial mindset is the first step. Good publishers relentlessly focus on providing readers with information and analysis that they cannot access elsewhere, commissioning only best-in-class, independent journalists. An editorial mindset also means taking the time to think about and invest in the format, the layout, the entire user experience of your content. Are you collecting the best data in your industry to produce your infographics? Are your designs conceived with originality, as a publishing house would do?
An editorial mindset also means treating deadlines for your content as if you were going to press. A mistake I constantly see brand marketers make is to get mired in layers of signoffs and edits, pushing back the release date of publishing projects by whole quarters at times. This only brings the team further and further away from the original goal and gumption behind the project.
On another note, if you’re anything like me, the paper you picked up this morning on the way into the office was The Times. The great thing about Times content is that it’s quite clearly Times content – it couldn’t be anything else. A publisher has a particular style, tone and approach to content, which is why you’d easily be able to pick up an unnamed article and know whether it was from the The Week or The Economist. So another publisher’s building block to add to your strategy is to choose a consistent approach and religiously stick to it, regardless of the internal stakeholder pressure. Create a distinct voice and style for your brand as a publisher that will become recognisable to your core audience and carve out a regular following depending on your chosen strategy. It’s the same reason some people prefer The Week to The Economist, or choose to watch Vice News on Youtube instead.
Ultimately it’s because an editorial mindset focuses on the experience of knowledge – not on selling or telling – and that’s why it’s better than what marketers typically do. If you focus on doing that well; adding metrics, tracking forms and other ROI analysis will be much more effective later on. We live in an intelligence culture where knowledge is the most prized commodity, especially amongst time-poor business decision-makers – and playing up to that, recognising it and building a strategy around that reality, is stepping up to the plate as a successful content marketer.