Sword and the Script

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

Read More…

Be Sociable, Share!
Read More

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…

Be Sociable, Share!
Read More

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…

Be Sociable, Share!
Read More

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…

Be Sociable, Share!
Read More

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…

Be Sociable, Share!
Read More

Infographic: 25 Useful Content Marketing Tools



by Frank Strong

content marketing

With so many tools available for content marketing and social media, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, so when the Social Times ran this infographic on their site, it caught my attention as useful for a weekend share.  PSA:  the Social Times has a fantastic email newsletter that comes out every morning and summarizes the major social media stories of the day.

Typically, I take a bite-sized approach and test out a few tools at a time.  Of the 25 tools on this list, there are four I’ve had some experience with and  here are three that I’d put my name on: Read More…

Be Sociable, Share!
Read More

The Soft and Subtle PR Pitch of Content Marketing



by Frank Strong

content-marketing-PR

He just started writing reporters one day.  It was a time before blog comments, and tweets, and Facebook updates; he sent his thoughts by email.

It wasn’t a pitch.  It wasn’t a call to action.  It was a note.  Just a conversation – a comment on an article he read.  He offered perspective – his own – but it was all done without an ask.

It took a while, but then he started to get a lot of press coverage. Instead of leading with his credentials, or his story, his emails offered the viewpoint of a person engaged in the daily activities of his industry.  He became a source. And reporters started asking him for his opinions.

This story is my recollection of one chapter in The Cluetrain Manifesto, a book I often reference in posts on this site. One of the authors, Doc Searls, is still quite active on the web from his vantage point at Harvard. Read More…

Be Sociable, Share!
Read More

The Long Road to Content Shock



by Frank Strong

TopRank's Content Marketing Maturity Model

TopRank’s Content Marketing Maturity Model

Have we reached the limits of content marketing?  Is the birth of a trend just now starting to hit the mainstream destined to crash?

Mark Schaefer calls it “content shock,” which comes with an eloquent explanation that boils down to this:

This intersection of finite content consumption and rising content availability will create a tremor I call The Content Shock. In a situation where content supply is exponentially exploding while content demand is flat, we would predict that individuals, companies, and brands would have to “pay” consumers more and more just to get them to see the same amount of content. Read More…

Be Sociable, Share!
Read More

Focusing on a Few 2014 Content Marketing Predictions



by Frank Strong

“Microsoft will buy one, maybe two, media companies in certain industries,” wrote Joe Pulizzi, in CMI post titled 50 Content Marketing Predictions for 2014. “The outcome of these moves will pave the way for further media purchases throughout the year by non-media companies.”

That a tech company would acquire a media company is a bold prediction…until we remember Microsoft has previous experience in a joint venture with NBC and once hired its arch nemesis, Robert Scoble to humanize the company. Seems like a play out of a standard playbook today, except when we remember that Microsoft made those moves as far back as in 2005.  That’s more than an eon in social media time, where we hang on what’s next and too easily forget what happened.

As for the longevity of a media company?  Sure the mainstream industry has fallen on hard times, but for technology companies, it could be a saving grace.  We might remember AOL as a cartoonish internet portal, or a once ubiquitous instant messaging service, but AOL News still hauls in more than 50 million viewers a month. Read More…

Be Sociable, Share!
Read More

Building, not Borrowing: What PR is Missing



by Frank Strong

PR lesson fad

A fad is something we already had. Content is no fad.

About a year ago I presented at a hat trick of speaking engagements in the PR industry. These ranged from national professional association – to a regional event produced by a trade publication – to a local event organized by industry peers. What struck me the most was the sociological difference – no two groups were even remotely alike.

These groups fell into what I thought was three broad categories:

a. The lost. This group primarily came from smaller shops – corporate and agency alike. They had no concept for the social web, content or digital marketing. This group literally didn’t know what they didn’t know.

b. The learners.  This group was mixed – people from all walks of life. They were open minded, fully cognizant the dynamics of PR had changed, knew they were behind and were present to catch up.  Every session was filled with people taking furious notes and asking good questions.  There was a sense of urgency in the air and the conference organizers did well to line up excellent sessions. Read More…

Be Sociable, Share!
Read More