Whose Job is Content?

Content marketing has been embraced by businesses large and small. They know there’s far less of a need to buy media when you can create it yourself. They’re aware that if you have a website, a blog, a YouTube channel, a Twitter presence, a Facebook page, or a host of other online offerings, then you’re as much (if not more) a publisher than you are an advertiser.

But strategizing, creating, assessing, disseminating, evaluating, and monetizing content doesn’t just happen by itself. Someone’s got to actually do it.

How do organizations determine who that someone is? There are certainly plenty of possible roles and responsibilities that can oversee, or play a role in, content marketing. Here are just a few of the most obvious examples:

  • Chief content officer or VP of content
  • Chief marketing officer
  • Everyone (or very nearly everyone)
  • Content or editorial director
  • Conversation or community director
  • Blogger
  • Social media guru
  • Copywriter
  • Copy editor
  • Outside consultant(s)
  • PR professional

Companies that really buy in to content marketing are increasingly taking the “everyone” approach. Or at least, they’re hiring a whole lot of people to be responsible for creating digital content because its worth has been solidly demonstrated.

Zappos is one such organization. It started testing video product demonstrations in late 2008. A year later it was producing 60-100 videos per day, with a goal of 50,000 by the end of this year. To that end, the company is upping its full time video production staff of 40, not to mention the scores of employees who appear in the vast majority of the demonstration spots.

Zappos’ content team senior manager Rico Nasol has said that the company sees conversion increase up to 30 percent on products that are accompanied by video.

Think this commitment to content is relevant only to B2C companies? Think again. Recently I spoke with Rick Short, who heads marketing for Indium. His team publishes a staggering 73 blogs on the topic, which in turn is translated into seven languages.

Seventy-three blogs on soldering supplies?

“A lot of people have same reaction you have,” Rick assured me. “They’re surprised a topic like soldering would be worthy of this kind of social media attention. Bottom line is that’s all I do. That’s my job. This isn’t arcane and weird. I’m surrounded by 600 colleagues who are really into it. We’ve dedicated our careers to it. These topics that we in our industry are consumed with are very rich, complex, and rewarding. The team is bona fide, qualified engineers. What a great marketing tool! Why would I hire anyone to rep me when the ‘me’ is better than anything out there?”

Short then said, “If I’d put someone between me and my readers it would read like another press release. We went right to authentic and real. We’ve got to get rid of the Mad Men, take them out of the equation, and go to the market one engineer to another. These guys are smart. They’re PhDs. We can’t think we’re impressing them in this old school, go-to-market style. I want you to be the one who speaks, who takes the picture, whose work is expressed in your own voice. They started seeing that I was sincere, and the customers sincerely appreciate it.”

How did Short arrive at 73 blogs? That’s the number of keywords he identified that the company’s clients searched on when looking for Indium’s products and services.

Clearly, when the job is creating lots of content, it helps to have lots of contributors. Yet putting someone at the helm of those initiatives is critical — as critical as putting an editor-in-chief in charge of everything published by a newspaper or magazine. Consistency, style, voice, adherence to mission, editorial judgment, and ethics are just a part of the role.

Joe Chernov, VP of content marketing at Eloqua, defines his responsibilities as being able to “identify content that will be share-worthy to the company’s audience, and to figure out how to procure that.”

Chernov challenges companies to ask themselves if they have “resources in-house, the skill set to collaborate with demand team, [and the ability] to distribute content through channels that make the most sense.”

“The aperture is set kind of wide regarding what content marketing is,” Chernov said. “In some ways, I wonder if companies that have a blog could check that ‘content marketing blog’ box and move on. They’ll never do the real content marketing labor, which isn’t just tweeting out headlines that are related to your industry, but instead creating substantive, share-worthy content that gets people to talk about you and spend time on their website and gets them to engage in the things you want them to engage in.”

OK, but Eloqua is a B2B technology company, not an e-commerce player like Zappos. So how does Chernov measure the impact the content he’s creating and overseeing has on the bottom line? He admits it’s not a clear equation, but counters with a question: “How many shipwrecks did a lighthouse prevent?”

In order to assess the skill sets required in a chief content officer, Joe Pullizzi recently published a highly detailed job description template. Take a look, and adapt it to your organization’s content marketing needs.

Note: This post was adapted from a chapter in my book, Content Marketing, as well as a column in iMediaConnection.

Image: http://best-conductor.conductorss.com

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Rebalancing for Content – The New Marketing Equation

There’s been a rash of news stories recently with headlines so misleading it’s hard to believe they passed editorial muster. Yet a quick search of Google News reveals no less than five articles with ledes very much like this one: “P&G to cut 1600 staff after CEO discovers digital media is free‎“.

Any serious marketer knows “free” is nonsense. As with SEO, content marketing shakes marketers loose from the expense of the media buy. But budgets, staffing, skill sets, education, agency relationships, investments in technology and shifting strategy to align content with other marketing initiatives (yes, even advertising) all require substantial investment, and require marketers to rebalance both strategies and tactics.

That’s what Content: The New Marketing Equation examines. Following on the heels of my book on content marketing, which looks at why content marketing matters, this research report examines how organizations are adapting to the challenges it presents: the need to think like a publisher rather than an advertiser; moving from episodic campaigns to sustained content initiatives; and creating a genuine culture of content throughout the organization because stories don’t reside in the marketing department.

The report identifies the five stages of maturity an organization can achieve as it becomes more proficient at content marketing, including a self-assessment tool to score your own level of content proficiency. We also look at the content channels marketers are using now, and those they say they will in the future. As they move away from text-based channels, e.g. articles and blogging, into more technologically sophisticated areas such as video, mobile and image-based information, it’s clear “free” does not enter into the equation.

For the report, we conducted 56 interviews with subject matter experts and companies as diverse as Coca-Cola, American Express, GE, IBM, Adobe, Ford Motor Company, Wells Fargo, and Intel. Below, the questions we asked each interview subject.

    • How are companies responding internally to the demands of content marketing?
    • How much of your/your clients’ content creation is outsourced vs created in house? (rough % question)
    • Have you run into any problems with outsourcing content creation to agencies?  Have they been able to effectively align the content they create with your brand ?
    • Can – and should – content marketing initiatives be reconciled and integrated with advertising?
    • What are the most effective types of content you’ve used to promote your brand?
    • How should organizations rebalance? How should internal and external resources be aligned? How do they integrate silos for more effective messaging and spend?
    • Have you needed to hire new employees or create new teams?  How many did you have to bring on?  Which teams did you have to create?  What drove you to the conclusion that this rebalancing was necessary?
    • Where are these new resources coming from? Should they be assigned to the same agency that handles advertising? Outsourced to PR firms, digital consultancies – or staffed in-house? Can they – and should they – be integrated with or otherwise reconciled with “classic” advertising?
    • How are internal staffing needs changing? How much content creation can realistically be outsourced – does this lead to a “clueless handler” situation?
    • How are determinations being made regarding when it’s better to buy vs. create or earn media?  Who ultimately makes that decision?
    • How do you determine the optimal mix between bought vs earned media?
    • What types of agencies (advertising, PR or new breed) can walk the walk and support content marketing initiatives? (Lord knows, everyone and their brother is talking the talk.)
    • What qualities do you look for when evaluating these agencies?
    • What are the most common ‘red flags’ you look for when deciding to work with an agency?
    • How do you get management buy-in and measure content marketing initiatives?
    • What new types of content do you anticipate adding to your arsenal in the next year?  Three years out?
    • Which types of content do you plan to phase out or found ineffective?
    • How is your organization adapting its structure to accommodate content marketing?
    • Are there any questions that you wish we had asked you/we should have asked? And who else do you think we should speak to for this research report?

Many thanks to the numerous people who tirelessly contributed their time, knowledge and expertise to making this research happen. We’d be delighted to hear your reactions and to provide direction or guidance on your own content marketing or strategy needs.

Cross-posted from the Altimeter Group blog

Thanks to the media and bloggers discussing this research:

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