Content Marketing Grows Up [Altimeter Research]

Content Marketing’s 4 Stumbling Blocks

Content marketing – a pull strategy that draws customers in – is growing up as marketers move from short advertising messages to longer narratives.

As content usage within an organization matures, the creation process extends beyond the marketing department to the entire organization. Today’s 24/7 real-time environment requires responding and engaging.

In Altimeter’s latest research report by  Rebecca Lieb, author of Content Marketing: Think Like a Publisher – How to Use Content to Market Online and in Social Media (affiliate link), content marketing is defined as “a term that refers to the creation and sharing of content for marketing purposes.  

In digital channels, it refers to content that resides on properties the brand or marketer owns (e.g., a website) or largely controls from a content perspective (social media channels, syndication). Content marketing differs from advertising in that, unlike advertising, a media buy is never part of the equation.” (For additional perspectives, here are twenty-one content marketing definitions.)

As organizations move away from their Me, Me, Me advertising, marketers are drawn back to their organization’s narratives, often in the form of storytelling where they can adjust the story to meet their needs. In the process, organizations must realign their resources, budget, staff and agency relationships. The Altimeter report found effective content marketing goes beyond hiring a competent content creator. Content development must be incorporated across the organization.

On the path to becoming a publisher, content marketing organizations, even those determined to change, face the following four stumbling blocks according to Lieb. Here they are along with my actionable content marketing tips.

  1. Understand Content Marketing Is Not Free. Like the early arguments made for social media with which content marketing is closely associated, content marketing has real costs for an organization. While there’s often no third party media costs as there are for advertising, strong business content requires staff, production and distribution expenses. You can’t assume that staff can create effective content in their “spare” time. Actionable Content Marketing Tip. At a minimum, hire or dedicate staff to creating content that can be distributed across various owned, social media and third party channels on a regular basis.
  2. Implement Organizational Cultural Integration Around Content Marketing. As your organization increases its use of content marketing, the function of creating content extends beyond the marketing department. Content marketing requires input and contributions from across the enterprise to get to the most effective corporate stories. To support this change, training is needed to ensure that all employees can contribute to the content creation efforts. Actionable Content Marketing Tip. Remove the fear of not being a good writer or communicator through the support of a copyeditor and/or the use of other media formats such as video and podcasts.
  3. Integrate Content Marketing and Advertising. While many marketers are cutting back on their advertising investment as they increase the use of content marketing. The Altimeter report makes the point that a combination of content marketing and advertising are more effective since the different methods of storytelling and different platforms help reinforce each other. Actionable Content Marketing Tip. Don’t under estimate content marketing and advertising coordination. For example highlighting customer stories and reviews via advertising.
  4. Avoid Bright, Shiny Content Marketing Objects. In your zeal to increase your use of content marketing, beware of the latest technology and social media platforms. The bottom line is that you need to pay attention to the basics of marketing. Actionable Content Marketing Tip. To this end, it’s critical to set goals for your content marketing, know your target audience and measure the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns.

Content marketing is different from your other forms of marketing. While it doesn’t include a media cost, it requires relevant stories.

What do you see as content marketing’s hurdles and why?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen


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  • http://In-The-Flow.com Jim Campbell

    Wow, great article and your book suggestion Content Marketing: Think Like a Publisher – How to Use Content to Market Online and in Social Media (Heidi’s affiliate link), looks awesome too. Content is soooo important. It’s a challenge even for clients and industries when content is plentiful (i.e., financial services, etc.). We just have to get it right or it misses and becomes mere exercise. When we do get it right, it becomes almost magical!  

    • http://riversidemarketingstrategies.com/ Heidi Cohen

      Jim – I agree content marketing is important aspect of every marketing plan to ensure you’re supporting social media, incorporate search optimization, and provide appropriate purchase cycle information. To clarify, both the Altimeter Research and the book are authored by Rebecca Lieb. I suggest you read the research (it’s free!). Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

    • Anonymous

      Jim – I agree content marketing is important aspect of every marketing plan to ensure you’re supporting social media, incorporate search optimization, and provide appropriate purchase cycle information. To clarify, both the Altimeter Research and the book are authored by Rebecca Lieb. I suggest you read the research (it’s free!). Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

  • Sean S Magee

    One big hurdle is finding away to tell the story without the brand/service/product being lost in the manutia of the story itself. I often find people are gripped by good content, but as was said- advertising seems to be necessary to ensure a sale. The big risk is getting too caught up in the story.

    • Anonymous

      Sean–When using stories for content marketing, it’s critical to get to the heart of the story and ensure readers can tell your beginning, middle and end. Further it must be integrated with your brand and have meaning for being told. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen