It leaves room for your message to be on the menu, and the Internet
gives you more opportunity than ever to present why your meal is the
What a glorious table setting for content marketing.
“Content marketing has always been a part of the marketing mix in some
fashion, just under different names such as branded content, brand
storytelling and so on,” says Kevin Briody, Senior Vice President,
Content Marketing, for Pace. (Based in Greensboro, North Carolina, Pace
was named 2013 Content Agency of the Year at the second annual Content
Marketing Awards.) “However it really took off over the last few years
due to how consumers are finding and sharing all that content – in other
words, due to the rise of organic search (Google, Bing, etc.) and
social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc.) and their
“In an incredibly noisy marketing landscape, particularly online, having
a powerful, relevant and engaging story to tell has become absolutely
critical for brands looking to connect with their customers and
prospects. Great storytelling content, and how it fuels organic search
and social media, is the root of content marketing as a viable marketing
James Meyers is the CEO of Imagination Publishing, which was a finalist
for 2013 Content Agency of the Year. He believes the online culture has
been a catalyst for content marketing’s boom.
“Unquestionably, the Internet has catapulted the growth of content
marketing,” Meyers says. “The combination of needing frequent, valuable
content to: improve SEO results; to encourage repeat customer visits; to
engage customers; and to feed social networking streams have all become
a critical necessity for marketers of all organizations. As a result,
agencies of all types – traditional ad agencies, public relations firms
and content publishers – have all moved to fill this need. In doing so,
they have further elevated the frenzy around content marketing.”
For a marketer who has never attempted a content marketing program, the
entire philosophy and process can seem overwhelming and not worth the
amount of time, energy and resources it takes to get a program moving.
After all, how does one go about affecting the Internet?
But, think of a dry sponge placed under a faucet that has a single drip
coming from it. The drip falls, and the sponge absorbs it in quick
fashion. You know the water went in; it went somewhere, even if there’s
not really any good evidence of such after a brief moment. So, you spend
your time and effort keeping the sponge perfectly still while waiting
on the faucet to produce another drip, which it does. That drip also
hits the sponge in the same spot and seems to disappear. However, this
time you can feel where the drip hit. Soon, another drip and then
Pretty soon the water’s effect is easily noticeable as it continues to
hit the sponge in the same spot and then spread out as more of the
sponge begins to absorb the moisture. After a while, the sponge is
soaked – all from a steady stream of individual drips.
Now, what if that sponge is your desired consumer group? What if that
single drip is your first attempt at content marketing via a new blog
entry, a YouTube video tutorial or Pinterest post? Nobody really noticed
those first few efforts, probably.
However, after some patience, sticking to a targeted approach, and
having the resolve to hold your program in place, your message, which
smartly has centered on and drummed home the fact that you are the
expert of your industry, has saturated your target.
The most critical aspect to any content marketing initiative is, not surprisingly, to make sure you have content.
“A successful content marketing program is a complex undertaking and,
depending upon scale, may require full-time resources,” Myers says.
“Many organizations have made the mistake of creating a new website or
social site, launching it with content and then seen dismal results as
they fail to feed constant additional content in a variety of formats to
“We believe that there are three essential pillars to any successful
content marketing program: strategy, content creation and distribution
marketing. Without addressing and continuously focusing on all three of
these area, most content marketing programs will ultimately fail.”
Briody believes in sharpening your content to the point that it can’t
help but hit and impact the desired target; and making sure you can tell
just how good the shot was.
“First, define a distinctive brand voice and point of view – why should
somebody listen to you instead of all the others out there making
noise?” Briody says. “Why should they pay attention in the first place,
and keep coming back for more?
“Second, have a goal in mind, one you can measure – so many content
marketing programs fail because they set out to “share lots of content”
without any clear understanding of how all that content and all that
sharing should lead back to measurable business results.
“Third, having a distribution strategy is as important as crafting great
content; “Build it and they will come” is something that should only
live in movies – it has no place in your content marketing efforts. Just
because you launch the World’s Most Amazing Content Hub (or Blog),
doesn’t mean anyone is going to find it.
“Lay out your SEO (Organic Search) strategy, then evaluate all the other
customer touch points where your amazing content might add value – can
it fuel your email marketing, make your social media more effective, add
some personality to your events, or some context to your advertising?
Where and how can your content be used, so that it has the most chance
of being seen, consumed and drive real results?”
As consumers continue to improve their search capabilities, it will
become even more vital for marketers to find ways to stand out among
competitors. Developing a content marketing plan now, even if you
haven’t previously, will go a long ways toward helping accomplish that
“We conducted very successful content programs that have been proven
drivers of audience expansion, increased sales leads or conversions,
shorter decision cycles, customer engagement and improved loyalty,”
Meyers says. “Unlike traditional advertising campaigns where results
drop off when the spending stops, content marketing is a long-term
program that continues to build over time and has a long residual value
Briody also believes in content marketing’s staying power.
“I don’t think there really is a ceiling to great content marketing,”
Briody says. “If you look at trends the major, iconic brands are
following, everyone from Nike to Coke and beyond are making amazing
content the centerpiece of their entire digital brand experience.
“It increasingly dominates their traditional advertising and is
displacing offer-based promotions in everything from email to social to
digital paid media. Great content is rapidly become a de facto
requirement for great marketing – so the sky’s the limit.