For The Right Content Marketing Answers, Ask The Right Content Strategy Questions
A big box retailer’s chief content officer of reached out recently with a question. Here’s what he wanted to know:
“What is the percentage of content you see utilized comparatively that’s company generated versus user-generated versus contributor generated? I’m trying to see how others are looking at their mix.”
What would you have told him?
The proportional mix of content marketing tactics is a topic I haven’t researched as an analyst. While it would be interesting to explore, I suspect there’s never going to be a “right” answer — as is common in the marketing world, it ultimately depends on your business. In other words, it doesn’t matter what the other guys are doing. What matters is what’s right for you.
In addition to company-, user- and contributor-content, there are other sources of content as well, such as aggregated and curated content. All can contribute significantly to a content mix. Similarly, they can be components of different campaigns and initiatives.
Dell’s Tech Page One, for example, combines company + commissioned + curated content (as does their newly launched native advertising campaign in the NY Times).
Virgin, Blackberry and Intel all support robust content curation/aggregation sites in addition to creating significant content in the other buckets mentioned above. My company encourages individual analysts to create original content on our personal blogs and other social media channels, in addition to the research we publish and make available under Creative Commons.
Many retailers these days (though not the company that reached out to me with this question) are encouraging store associates to create content, often equipping them with mobile devices that allow them to tweet, post, photograph and video from the showroom floor. And of course, another tried-and-true retail content cornerstone is user-generated content — everything from user reviews to unboxing videos.
The right mix of content will always be “it depends.” If you’re selling jeans or computers to shoppers at the mall, it probably doesn’t matter that much what Red Bull or Intel or SAP are doing, content-wise. Their activities may provide ideas and inspiration — but at the end of the day, you’re in a different vertical, selling a different product, and targeting a different audience. Your content strategy needs to be aligned with your own business goals, not with someone else’s.
Content Strategy Is The Foundation Of Content Marketing
At the end of the day, the mix of content channels, media, and tactics loops back to content strategy. Virgin’s strategy is to reach millennials via news, both on their curated site and with native offerings on Buzzfeed. Intel created IQ so its staff could reach out to contacts in the industry, potential clients, etc., with targeted, relevant content. More original content that they themselves produce resides in other channels and serves other strategic goals.
At the end of the day, the real question is, “What content and which channels will help meet our specific goals?” This could be sales, thought leadership, engagement, reaching a target audience, or a host of other KPIs. Content strategy doesn’t only cover “what” are we doing — first and foremost, it addresses “why” we’re doing it.
While it would be interesting to fill in the formula posited above (and benchmark it for different industry verticals, enterprise size, etc.), it’s very simply not the right question from a strategy perspective.
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