Sword and the Script

8 Epic Takeaways from Joe Pulizzi’s Epic Content Marketing



by Frank Strong

8 Epic Takeaways from Joe Pulizzi Epic Content Marketing

There are a lot of business books that claim to have something for everyone – from beginner to expert.  Epic Content Marketing, by Joe Pulizzi, is one of the few that fulfills that promise.

Recently I finished his book, and as it is with many books I consume these days, I listened to the audio version – all 8.5 hours of it – over the course of several long drives. It was well worth the time invested and I’d recommend it to anyone in marketing, if you consume one book by year’s end, make Epic Content Marketing that book.

Pulizzi says he first started using the phrase “content marketing” in 2001 when working for a custom publisher.  Few marketing executives had an interest in “custom publishing” but the term content marketing seemed to resonate. Read More…

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Infographic:  Content Marketing Strategy Conundrum



by Frank Strong

Content Marketing Strategy Conundrum

If you don’t know where you’re going, then any road will take you there as the old adage says.  The challenge for many businesses is they do know where they want to go, but they aren’t sure – or there isn’t consensus – on how to get there.

Conceptually, strategy is pretty simple and follows a logical flow:

1. Business strategy first
2. Then marketing strategy
3. Then functional strategies, like content strategy

Ideally, each child strategy is nested with the parent. In reality, strategy is far more complex, requires research and the time to metabolize that research into meaningful and executable plans of action. Read More…

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Sign of Content Marketing Times: CMO, Survey and a VC



by Frank Strong

content marketing CMO

Jeff Jones took two unusual steps among executives in large enterprises.  First, he responded.  Second, he responded with humility and grace.

As the CMO of Target, Jones was responding of course, to a Gawker story that circulated the social web last week, where an anonymous employee attacked the company’s culture.

The Target culture is very Minnesota – it’s very passive aggressive. They expect you to conform to them, to be “Targetized” and drink the Koolaid. If you aren’t super bubbly, super social and passive aggressive, you get told that you’re a problem. Being direct, wanting to actually get your work done, asking questions and pushing back are all viewed as bad things and you’ll be told to tone it down or you’ll be pushed out.

Culture is about as central to a business as its model.  As Peter Drucker famously said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Read More…

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Balancing PR with Content Marketing



by Frank Strong

Balancing PR and Media Relations with Content Marketing
Part of any job is choosing the right tools. For PR pros, especially those focused on media relations, the right tools also convey meaning. This is what Marshall McLuhan meant and he conveyed his messages in a book.

In Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman unbundles the concept:

For although culture is a creation of speech, it is recreated anew by every medium of communication – from painting to hieroglyphs to the alphabet to television.  Each medium, like a language itself, makes a possible unique mode of discourse by providing a new orientation for thought, for expression, for sensibility.  Which, of course, is what McLuhan mean in saying the medium is the message. Read More…

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Infographic: The State of Content Marketing; Rich Getting Richer



by Frank Strong

content marketing divide

The content rich keep getting richer, while the content poor keep getting poorer.  That’s my observation from Eloqua’s report The State of Content Marketing in 2014.

Eloqua conducted an online survey of its marketing community.  It had 205 takers and by the looks of the demographics at the end of the report, the sweet spot seems to be mid-level managers in businesses with a couple hundred employees.  However, there’s another factor in demographics that makes the findings especially interesting. Read More…

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9 Sweeping Lessons from Content Marketing Benchmarking Study



by Frank Strong

top content marketing goals
In January, research firm Ascend2 released a study of 521 sales and marketing professionals which was conducted through an online panel. The report published in January 2014, Content Marketing Benchmarking Summary, was covered in part by eMarketer and I recently went back to take a closer look at the findings.

The surveyors didn’t break out the demographics by role or seniority, and instead called them “decision makers” which seems to be a catch-all phrase in surveys of late. I would have also been very interested to know the break out between functions — specifically between sales and marketing — but I generally think it’s smart to include sales in any content marketing study.

The study itself was just about the data and graphics, and in this post, I’ve added fairly substantial interpretation about a) what it means and b) what marketers should do about it:

1. Top goals for content marketing

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7 Attitudes for Effective Content Marketing (101)



by Frank Strong

7 Attitudes for Effective Content Marketing

“Content marketing” means providing information that educates a customer or prospective customer enabling them to make an informed purchasing decision. Instead of hard-selling products or services business use content they create to engage and inform prospects to turn them into fans, and turn existing fans into fanatics.

Content marketing is not new. The tractor company, John Deere, launched a print magazine called The Furrow more than 100 years ago. This was not a sales brochure, but a media publication with bona fide editorial content that was mailed to farmers.

The concept is simple: by providing educational material, John Deere became a trusted source of information, and when buyers were ready to make a purchase, they turned to their trusted source. Today The Furrow still exists and is mailed to 1.4 million farmers in 40 countries. It can also be found online. Read More…

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Content Marketing *is* PR



by Frank Strong

Content Marketing is PR

Some of the conclusions drawn from a recent study — The Role of Content in the Consumer Decision Making Process – are missing the mark from my perspective.  

One finding from the study:

A brand new in-lab study by Nielsen, commissioned by inPowered, shows that expert content—credible, third-party articles (earned media)—is the most effective source of information in impacting consumers along all stages of the purchase process across product categories. More specifically, when measured against owned media (branded content) it showed that earned media is 80 percent more effective at the bottom-of-the-funnel or purchase consideration stage, 80 percent more effective at the middle-of-the-funnel or affinity stage, and 38 percent more effective at the top-of-the-funnel or familiarity stage.

Based on that data, the conclusion is: PR is more effective than content marketing. Read More…

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Why the Deluge of Content Raises Standards



by Frank Strong

Why the Deluge of Content Raises Standards

The proliferation of content marketing has led some pundits to criticize the quality: it’s challenging to consistently conceive ideas, write and publish content of uniform high-quality.

If that problem exists, then suffice to say it’s not a new issue, though it may be new to those who are new to publishing. For example, the same issue occurs in journalism and in the publication of scientific research. Read More…

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We are Number #1; a Weak Content Marketing Strategy



by Frank Strong

content marketing strategy

Every organization sets its sights on being the best – but even in the cases where it’s actually true, this is a poor content marketing strategy.

Nobody likes a chest-thumping.  In our own interpersonal communications, we go to lengths to avoid people who talk only about themselves. In the marketing context, it’s similar in that people avoid companies or organizations that only talk about themselves; there’s no value in it for customers and prospects.

Who wants to read or share a blog post on any social network by ACME Company that proclaims ACME Company is the #1 brand in widget making?  Nobody does. Read More…

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