Wrapping my head around Content Marketing

In August 2012 I decided to dive into a full time job again and joined Colligo Networks as their Content Marketing Manager, a new role for them and for me. The position was responsible for all marketing content and the channels through which it was published and promoted. There was the usual combination of website, blog, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, news releases, events, etc.. Tools like HootSuite, Eloqua, Google Analytics, and Salesforce.com provided control and reporting to tune our efforts.

However, it was quickly obvious that I had no idea what a Content Marketing Manager (CMM) was truly supposed to do. Sure, I knew to write content, use the tools, drive SEO etc. but it lacked a strategic somethingorother. I was busy but lost!

Clarity came in the form of an eBook by Kapost and Eloqua: “How to Build & Operate a Content Marketing Machine” -- excellent!

The first lesson was that content marketing becomes special when it’s a company-wide strategic initiative -- not just something the crazies in marketing do. Without that level of appreciation, it’ll be a hard slog and never break out of tactical mode. Armed with this perspective, you work back up the messaging chain, all the way to top - the corporate mission, your thought leaders, and how you want to make a difference in the world -- it all starts there. Not wanting to sound too melodramatic, liken it to an actor finding their motivation for a scene -- the CMM must channel the corporate essence and allow the identity to flow through everything they do. Address this before building the content marketing machine. Do the ground work and give marketing a sincere foundation, and it can happen fast with good buy-in.

At Colligo, the above journey first led me to create a new tag line for the company. It wasn’t that it was critical for us to have a new tag line, but that the process of creating it forced a refined understanding of the mission etc., which was extremely valuable. The process involved all the key people, so I didn’t have to fight for support.

The second lesson was that content marketing is most effective when you have thought leaders in or associated with your company. One could try to fake it, but people will know -- content marketing is about providing unique authentic value. The eBook characterizes the role of a content manager as an editor, gathering and refining stories for the machine. The sources are your company thought leaders and anyone else with pertinent stories to tell, including your business partners, community leaders, support staff, sales engineers, and so on -- look hard (they hide sometimes) and find ways to make it easy for them to contribute. With a hopperful of stories the content manager can map out a powerful content stream that generates interest in the company, sparks conversations (that generate more content), etc. and creates SEO magic.

Companies are still trying to figure out content marketing, and some old habits will have to be replaced for it to succeed -- Forbes had this say:

“Simply put, its focus is on building relationship, not the hard sell”

- The Top 7 Content Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2014

I had a blast learning about the freshly formalized corporate discipline of Content Marketing, and believe it’s a fantastic way to share your thought leadership and thus build valuable relationships.

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