Saturday, February 23, 2013

Content Marketing - how do you define it?

I recently read a blog post at the Business to Community web site about content marketing.  The author, one Eoin Keenan, surmises that content marketing may just be a fad.  He ponders that the reason B2B companies are investing more money in content marketing is because the 'other guy' is investing and because of the buzz around the term and/or concept of using this so-called content as a way to market.

I have to say Eoin's article did get me thinking.  I agree, the term 'content marketing' is becoming a buzz word among marketers.  I use the term liberally when I talk to stakeholders.  Now that I think about it, their eyes tend to shift awkwardly almost in a rolling fashion when I get going about content marketing.   I know what it means.  But maybe it's one of those terms where if you were to ask 10 marketers in a room to define content marketing, you would get 10 different definitions.

If I create a case study about how a customer used my product to solve his problem, is that content marketing?  If you create and broadcast a webinar about some problem your product helps solve, is that content marketing?  Is there a certain quantity of content I must create before I can say that I am a content marketer?  If I create a bunch of application or how-to notes and post them on my web site, will I be conducting content marketing?  How about our ancient homosapien ancestor in his cave 40,000 years ago telling a story to his tribe while he draws graphic pictures on the cave wall?  Is that content marketing?  Are we even ready to define what we mean when we discuss 'content'?

I'm sure each of us could use the Google search engine and find a reasonable definition we are ready to accept.  I tell people my marketing strategy is based on content marketing.  I go further to explain what I think content marketing means (as soon as I see the eye roll beginning).

Here's my take on the definition.  Content marketing means we create compelling bits of media about the issues, pains or problems faced by our target audience.  For example, we created a 4 page FAQ document addressing the issues people face when trying to measure dew point temperature in an industrial compressed air system.  Yes, our customers do struggle with obtaining a reliable measurement.  And, it just so happens that my company does manufacture a device that will make a reliable dew point measurement in a compressed air system.  We might re-purpose this document to an info graphic, a video, a podcast, a seminar, or a webinar.   After creating the media, we give it away both proactively and reactively.  By giving it away, we are beginning to engage with each person who reads or interacts with the content.  This person is getting to know our brand and puts the brand in a little box top of their mind for companies that have been helpful.  Content marketing gets you a place in their minds so that when the day comes and they need what we offer, we get the call.

So, thank you Eoin Keenan!  Your article was a great thought-provoking read.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Content - Is more better?

I am fairly active on LinkedIn, especially in the CMO Network group.  I recently participated in a discussion about content marketing.  If you are not aware of content marketing, you're not alone.  Content marketing is a highly effective and, I dare say, essential way of marketing in this day and age.  The Modern Marketer will gain market share by executing a solid content marketing plan.

The question posed to the group by Brian Monger @SmartaMarketing was "Is 'the more the better' good content strategy?"  I was the only person of the 5 responders to say yes.  All others stated that quality is most important.  Interestingly, one of the so called content marketing gurus, Joe Pulizzi, posted about the same concept a couple of days later.  It seems the underlying and accepted assumption is that if you produce quantity, you must forgo quality.  Group think is heavily at play in this discussion.  The idea of quality over quantity or quantity prohibits quality is ingrained in our culture.  I daresay it is almost cliche.  Good or even mediocre content in high volume is effective.

I enjoy taking a contrary viewpoint.  Some would say this is a personality disorder and perhaps they are correct.  But, it's much more interesting to take a look at the other side of a debate, especially if everyone else lines up on one side and you see group think at play.

Quantity in content marketing is a good thing and it trumps quality.  But let me clarify.  Your content must be professional, relevant and helpful to the needs of your target audience or target market if you prefer.  It does not have to be perfect.  One of my favorite quotes comes from the French Enlightenment writer, Voltaire "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good".  This applies to content.

It is essential to remember the purpose of content marketing; to engage thereby building top of mind awareness and establishing credibility.  If you really love red roses and someone gives you yellow roses, is there still gain in furthering your relationship with the yellow roses?  I suggest that the answer is yes.  If I touch my target audience monthly with decent content, even if they don't read it, they will have a perception that I am offering value via relevant content.   I will have a leg up on the competition who is producing one or two pieces of spectacular content in a year.

The key question to ask yourself when you are creating content is not "is my content considered high quality", but to ask "is my content helpful and relevant to my target audience and delivered on a frequent and regular basis".

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Eloqua and Oracle

It was announced on Friday that Oracle has closed the purchase of Eloqua.  So what does it mean for us Eloqua users?  Naturally, we hear grand plans and promise of great things to come.  I think we're all a bit skeptical or maybe it's just me.  It seems that when a behomouth like Oracle buys a relatively small company like Eloqua, the software gets absorbed or even lost amongst the huge offering of the big company.    Oracle already purchased Market2Lead a while ago.  What happened to that one?  Adobe bought Omniture.  IBM bought Unica, TeaLead and CoreMetrics.  Microsoft bought CoreMetrics.

Is it possible that Oracle swallows Eloqua into one of their other systems and now, instead of paying $50,000 per year, we are paying $500,000 per year to keep the same technology?  One thing we may be sure of is that Oracle didn't buy Eloqua to benefit Eloqua users, they bought it because they foresee a way to leverage the technology to make more profit.  Oracle is not interested in the SMB market.  It's likely that Oracle isn't going to continue offering Eloqua as it is offered today.  There's just not enough volume or profit in it to be of interest to Oracle.  Oracel with it's $37 billion dollar revenue stream is not interested in maintaining Eloqua and it's relatively meager $95.8 million dollar revenue stream.  You can be sure some other plan is in the works.

The effect on existing Eloqua users will occur at some point.  The question is how much will it cost us and when will we get the bill.   Cynical?  Perhaps.   Realistic?  We'll see.

Oracle, Adobe, SAP and their ilk aren't really interested in the SMB market.  Perhaps the consolidation that seems to be occurring will force small and medium size companies to the likes of Marketo or Genius for example.  Or, perhaps this opens the door for salesforce.com to bring in a full marketing automation suite.

One thing is sure, it will be interesting.