It used to be that adept optimization of your one or two platforms or environments – your .com and perhaps your blog — and the content and assets inhabiting those places — was enough of a day’s work to call yourself a Content Marketer.
Properly tending to your SEO made you feel on top of things – as though you quite literally were the master of your domain, with all content under control and servicing your marketing objectives. Content Marketers took a short-term view and the efforts didn’t amount to much.
But, today, a long view is required. In today’s cross-channel, cross-platform world, where Search no longer plays solo — and where your domain no longer stands alone as a destination — your Search effort must strategically and mechanically collaborate with many other media types and touch points. Content Marketing is not something finite or singular anymore. It’s a big job; in fact, it is an enterprise unto itself.
The Enterprise of Content Marketing
Some valuable work recently published by Altimeter Group analyst Rebecca Lieb — an oft published advocate, thinker and strategist on Content Marketing (and a contributor here on Marketing Land) — reveals what this practice looks like inside companies today. In “Content: The New Marketing Equation” — she specifically looks at the stages of organizational adoption, as marketers strive to get Content Marketing not only right but institutionalized.
There were 56 qualitative interviews that informed this report. These interviews were given by people who are very much on the front lines, engaging in Content Marketing for their organizations and devoted to its progress. Some were brands — including many in the Global Fortune 500 — and others were agencies, consultants and thought leaders of different orientations.
The phases of adoption and capability by organizations that emerged started with standing — as in standing still — and progressed to stretching, walking, jogging and running. This is Altimeter’s Content Marketing Maturity Model — profiling each potential phase based on understanding, commitment, staffing,resources,workflow, tools, scalability and monetization. I found the systematic evaluation of the state of our industry in this area especially useful, in that it very clearly presented a means for self-evaluation and then explicit prescriptions for evolving in each and every area of consideration.
Our Original Search Bias
Those of us who have been involved with emerging and new media — and certainly digital — have been thinking about and handling these matters for years, though in a limited way. I’ve enjoyed many conversations with friends like Rebecca, who I think of as fellow old guard. Many of these folks have a fairly hardcore original Search expertise, having been there from the early days, when they were focused on making at least one major content asset work for their companies or their clients. When it comes to Content Marketing, we recognize that SEO was always just the beginning for us. But that’s been our foundation — our one concrete “checklist” method for making content work for us — since the 90s. It has been a comfort zone for many marketers. We are happy for the evolution we see, today, when it comes to Content Marketing.
People And Consumers Created The Content Opportunity
The ecosystem in which we operate — just like any system — has evolved based on the needs, thirsts, curiosities and social habits of those operating the system. Those operators, of course, are people — looking to read, research, review, search, connect, communicate, share,congregate, and more. Channels, platforms and options have emerged in service of this spectrum, or hierarchy, of needs and desires. Today, the savvy content marketer is increasingly focused on visual aspects of all kinds; mobile and location-based approaches; adroit navigation of social platforms and channels; and appropriate budgeting across the mix. It’s action-packed.
The Principles Of Content Marketing
Reviewing “Content: The New Marketing Equation” — and pondering the author’s sourced assertions that companies today must rebalance their entire enterprise to strategically and productively execute Content Marketing — I feel that there is a more widespread transformation of mindset than I had previously believed.
In order to thrive in the realm of Content Marketing — and take the game further than SEO — it seems you’d have to at least believe the following on principle:
- My .com or blog cannot and should not stand alone as destination or lifeblood to my brand, online.
- My job is not finished with SEO.
- Taking content seriously means more than having great subject matter experts, editors, and tech writers. I need storytellers and multi-media programmers — fearful of no platform — who can work and knit across the mix. It all works together.
- Content is not one person’s job. Taking an expansive view, content must be insitutionalized, within a “culture of content” (a great term used by Lieb) in order to achieve the Content Marketing Maturity so aptly described by Altimeter.
- If we expect our content to take on life and spur engagement, as we wish, we cannot view our website and all platforms, outlets and touchpoints as a static work of art. We must view what we execute and deploy as a living, breathing, buzzing collaborative work.
It’s a lot. Is it a burden? No.
When you think about it, if we all strive for true maturity and to execute on a more robust variation of Content Marketing — it frees the organization. While taking Content Marketing to a more evolved state has impact on systems, investment, staff org charts and job descriptions, training and more, who wants to stand still every day for whatever brand, company or cause you call your own? No one does. And undertaking Content Marketing in such an integrated, all-hands way makes it more joint venture than isolated exercise, and anything but a burden.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.