Personally, I am a big proponent of content marketing for establishing trust, building credibility and offering potential clients an opportunity to see what they can expect. In the past several months, Content Marketing (emphasis on the capital letters to imply something very important) has reached critical mass, leading some pundits to declare 2014 as the year of Content Marketing.
The concern that I and others have is that this is going to lead to the same types of shenanigans that we witnessed during the rise and fall of SEO, or search engine optimization. For many so-called “content marketing gurus,” the goal is quantity, not quality. Good content works, but bad content actually can harm a brand worse than no content at all.
Putting Content into Context
Content marketing is a tactic – a means to an end. In the same way that cereal is “part of a balanced, nutritious breakfast.”
Bruce McDuffee, writing for the Content Marketing Institute, had the following to say:
Implementing content marketing tactics (or social media tactics, or any communication practice, for that matter) without first preparing a strategic marketing plan is like building a house with no blueprint. Adding rooms (marketing tactics) on a whim without an understanding of how each room supports the overall structure (business goals), the purpose of each room (objectives), and how you will decide if the room is successful (measurement) is a recipe for disaster at worst, and for sub-par performance even in the best-case scenario…
One of the tangible benefits of documenting a strategic marketing plan is that it drives collaboration among all stakeholders, which helps align the various functions. In addition, the process of writing the plan helps position the marketing department (and its personnel) as legitimate business partners — as opposed to being perceived as a service center that simply reacts to one request after another…
Creating the marketing plan is not just an exercise to be done once and then put on the virtual shelf. It is a living, dynamic document that should be referred to on a regular basis and updated as conditions or situations change.
What’s the Point?
As I wrote before (and still firmly believe), the job of a consultant (or any professional service provider) is to produce content of value. The goal of that strategy is to position yourself as an expert and thought leader. The best way to accomplish that goal—the secret to a successful content marketing strategy—is to provide the proper context for the content you are producing.
Or put another way, there is no point wasting time or money producing a piece of content unless you can answer the question, “What’s the point?”
For some more insight on content marketing strategy, and the importance of context, I recommend the following books that I am currently reading:
- Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World, by Gary Vaynerchuk
- Age of Context: Mobile, Sensors, Data and the Future of Privacy, by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel