By Tom Radford, Director of Innovation
Life is tough for the head of marketing. Always at someone else’s meeting talking about how to make their stuff look good. Very little influence over the things that they are expected to market, and little time for their own department and admin. Time-poor and frustrated is how many marketers describe themselves. And just when life couldn’t get anymore complicated, along comes the elephant in the room; Content Marketing! But it’s new and exciting, that’s good right?
I recently asked a group of expert content marketers to define what Content Marketing means to them. It was an attempt to get a clear definition of the concept. What a surprise; they were all different, some of them markedly so. This is because, unlike standard outbound marketing, content marketing is something that is still in its infancy.
My favourite definition came from the wisest of wise copywriters and local wit Henry Adams who said;
‘Delivering people stuff they want to see, where and when they want to see it.’
For me that’s as good a definition as any and, no matter how you go about it, that’s really what you’re trying to achieve.
The rules have not been laid down and nobody has really emerged as the absolute master at it. On the one hand you have inbound theory with its customer insights and bottom up approach. On the other hand you have creative curators who are literally scouring YouTube like football managers looking for someone’s audience to jack. In many ways, Content Marketing is a frontier and the prize is there for the taking.
So, back to our harassed and misunderstood marketer who is now under pressure to develop a content strategy. All the different departments demanding content are unaware of the nuances of content lore and so treat it like any other form of advertising and just demand more of it. The marketer walks off into the corridor and bangs his or her head against the wall while silently uttering expletives under their breath.
Actually, in reality this represents the opportunity that all marketers have been waiting for. Suddenly they have a new toy that is so complex that only a few people who really understand it can make it work. That means that the smart marketing director now has his or her own IP and can wield power once again. Content marketing requires deep research, careful planning and above all proper measurement. It is nothing without proof. So don’t go chasing rainbows, storytellers, glossy videos and video gamers without a very clearly defined objective. But if you know what you’re doing Content Marketing is your Spartacus, it is the way out of slavery for the marketer. Think of it as your new USP, the thing that you have that no one else fully understands. Tell that to the boss when it’s time to ask for budget.