Aquent Aquent

It's time to put content marketing in its place

by Gavin Heaton

It's time to put content marketing in its place image
It's time to put content marketing in its place

Content marketing is a popular concept with modern marketers. So too is growth hacking. And all of the various components of digital marketing from SEO to SEM, social media and more. But what is interesting about each of these is their need for specialisation. For focus.

Over the last ten years we have seen an explosion in the range of opportunities, channels and approaches available to marketers to help them do their jobs. We have webinars, eBooks, blogging, blogger outreach, video, podcasting, streaming and social media. We can produce books on-demand, emails that personalise the brand experience and websites that respond to the type of persona we fit.

In some cases, there is technology available that actually DOES the job of marketers. The challenge, of course, is that there is only so many hours in the day. The budget can only be stretched sooo far. And let’s face it, our customers only have so much interest in our brands, products and services. Surely they have a life beyond our brands. Right?

So the question for marketers is not “which?” but “why?”

We need to think about “what we do” — the business of marketing — in terms of strategy and audience. We need to ignore the bright and shiny object syndrome (no matter how strongly it beckons — look, Game of Thrones meets Marketing). Yes, that’s right.

The marketer’s greatest and most powerful tool is their insight and decision making — not the technology or even the analytics data at their fingertips.

Let’s put the technology AND the content back in its place.

Let’s get back to the customer

Often I hear that a client “needs” 20 pieces of content a month. It could be a handful of tweets and some blog posts. It could include video. Or a presentation. Maybe even a podcast. But when that is where the conversation starts, the alarm bells start ringing in my head.

Because content marketing is easy

And when I say “easy” — I mean that we know how to produce content. We have production teams. Resources. Capabilities. Content is about us. We can optimise production, create teams and produce, produce, produce.

But what is hard, is making content “sweat”.

After all, marketers are under pressure, surely you want your content to “do its job” too.

This is where “demand generation” comes in

At the recent B2B Marketing Leaders Forum, I spent time with Carlos Hidalgo, founder of Annuitas and author of Driving Demand: Transforming B2B Marketing to Meet the Needs of the Modern Buyer. And as we spoke, much of what Carlos was saying reminded me of my work with SAP. I had done a lot of the deep, strategic thinking and planning for the global “Premier Customer Network”, we had transformed the relationship between sales and marketing and were all too well aware of the long sales cycle and the shift from campaigns to buying journeys. We had strategy and insights (even some good ones).

We had bucketloads of content — whitepapers, analysis, webinars, training, documents, websites, videos, microsite, digital quizzes, surveys and more. And we had data, relationships and, of course, technology.

But it was only when we “orchestrated” an integrated strategy, did we see the needles move in a big way. Carlos speaks of this as “transforming demand generation”. It’s the way that marketing moves mountains. And it means putting content marketing — and all the other tactics — in their rightful place. It means putting all of this in the service of your customer’s experience. And that, my marketing friend, comes down to you.

ABOUT GAVIN

Gavin is a digital strategist and advisor. He has led new venture startups for organisations like PwC, developed digital strategy and execution for global brands on both the agency and client sides, and spent some time as an analyst in digital transformation for award winning analyst and advisory firm, Constellation Research. He is the founder of the Disruptor’s Handbook – an un-Agency that brings startup culture to the challenge of digital transformation and works with clients to help them see opportunity in disruptive technologies and business models. In his limited spare time he serves as president of youth organisation, Vibewire.

About Author

Gavin is a digital strategist and advisor. He has led new venture startups for organizations like PwC, developed digital strategy and execution for global brands on both the agency and client sides, and spent some time as an analyst in digital transformation for award winning analyst and advisory firm Constellation Research. He is the founder of the Disruptor’s Handbook – an un-Agency that brings startup culture to the challenge of digital transformation and works with clients to help them see opportunity in disruptive technologies and business models. In his limited spare time he serves as president of youth organization Vibewire.

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