Walking the Path of Content Marketing

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Recently I came across a blog by Altimeter Group analyst Rebecca Lieb entitled The Future of Content Marketing. Ms. Lieb skillfully described many of the lessons I myself have learned in my tenure at Intel. I subsequently downloaded the report upon which her blog was based, “Content: The New Marketing Equation. Why Organizations Must Rebalance.”

Full disclosure: I was not aware that Intel was one the contributors until I read the report. What I would like to share is my own personal experiences ‘walking the path’ of content marketing as a global integrated marketing manager. My thoughts do not necessarily reflect Intel’s overall marketing directions. 

“Content marketing requires a shift in company culture, resources, budgets, partners, and strategy. Rebalancing is critical to achieve these goals. The choice is whether to rebalance now or wait until later, when the battle for attention may become even more difficult than it is today.”

Lieb identifies five key components of rebalancing (page 8) and different phases of execution (page 20). I shared similar thoughts in my interview regarding content marketing with BtoB magazine.

Organizational Structure: I feel strongly that the role of Content Strategist or Editor-In-Chief is necessary to create effective editorial planning and foster content creation and distribution. It’s critical that this role reports directly to a VP or CMO or with senior management’s sponsorship. 

Internal Resources: The marketing department can provide platforms, tools, messaging guidance and creative to pave the way for content-based campaigns, but marketers are not subject matter experts on products and technologies. It’s critical to have a pool of subject matter experts committed to supply content continuously.

External Resources: Just as in traditional marketing, you will need to work with creative, media, social media, content and production agencies. Increasingly, you will need to work with IT to evaluate platform, processes and technologies.  

Measurement: Different channels require different sets of measurements. Creating a set of metrics to tie with sales goals can be tricky. Be prepared to go through a phase of trial and error to find a set of workable metrics. Also be prepared to change your metrics when you explore new channels, if you explore new channels.

Education: There are at least two specific targets for your education and communication efforts: senior managers and subject matter experts. Success often hinges on helping senior managers understand current and expected trends.  Meanwhile, leveraging in-house expertise can be accomplished by encouraging more employees to contribute and publish content.  Education is an ongoing process.   
There are multiple ways to implement content marketing within your company. To get things going, I was driving content marketing from the bottom-up without always obtaining the appropriate buy-in from senior management. Eventually we began to see positive results. However, I have found the most effective method is to obtain senior executive’s buy-in up front, even though this can take quite a bit of time and effort.  Once buy-in is received, you can continually build on this momentum by evaluating the organization structure, resources, budget and education plan holistically.    

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