Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Shocking Truth About Content Marketing




Who Are You?

We are in the middle of a seven week social media module in my Marketing Technology Class.  I wanted to share some of the learnings from our class, particularly on branding and strategy  and how they relate to content marketing.  Even a personal social media plan, which is one of our projects, can relate to how a company does business because you  can't 'tweet' without self-knowledge.


Let's work backwards to illustrate this point.  Content marketing, as I mentioned in this blog previously, makes sense of social media marketing  because it puts it all together.  The company (or individual  creates content, as show in the figure above, and then puts it out through multiple communications outlets, social media or otherwise.  So a white paper I might write on how to hire students in interactive marketing could be transformed into a few blog posts, a couple of tweets, an article in the college magazine.  We might say content marketing is also another way to think of integrated marketing communications, where our visual message but also our content message is consistent across channels.

What is Your Story?

This approach is all great but the biggest challenge for students (and companies) not what to create as appropriate content but what basic story they have to tell.  I have challenged them to think about their professional passion, what they are good at and their story (their personal brand).  That thought process is the hard work.  Once they defined themselves, they were able to create solid profiles on LinkedIn using key search terms relating to their areas of interest.  One student, +Megan Meyers, said she improved her LinkedIn profile by expressing her career interests in social media marketing and within a day was receiving jobs from LinkedIn that were targeted to her personal interests.

How Should Customers Think About Your Brand?

So the shocking, or maybe not so shocking,  truth is that content marketing really comes down to telling a story.  Content marketing is the work of creating the story, aka the brand image, that is the most difficult part of marketing.  I often walk into potential consulting projects and the client thinks they need a new web site design.  However, when we talk, we find out what they really need first is something to put on the web site that demonstrates a solid brand positioning.   Good branding requires self-knowledge and a knowledge of their target market.

Things are going well in class.  The students are all complaining that they suddenly have to manage all their new social media interactions.  I tell them that engagement is good and that is the goal of creating a powerful branding story that we can distribute through a content marketing program.

So YOUR assignment for the upcoming week is to think about your brand story.  Who are you and who is your audience and how do they want you to think about them?  Then and only then can you create your content marketing program.

By Debra Zahay-Blatz.
You can find Debra on and Twitter as well as LinkedIn.
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