In 1996, Bill Gates called a game-winning shot for content marketers everywhere when he said, “Content is king”. In that infamous essay published on the Microsoft website, Gates was making predictions about what this budding thing called “the Internet” could make possible in the world. Content, he prophesied, would be the real moneymaker of the web.
Fast-forward two decades and everywhere you look you’ll find companies working hard to make that prediction come to life. Businesses are churning out content left and right in an effort to turn that content into customers. But just because they’re putting lots of content out, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re doing it in a way that’s strategic or profitable.
Robert Rose, founder of The Content Advisory – the strategic services arm of the preeminent authority on content marketing, The Content Marketing Institute – and author of three acclaimed books on marketing, has a lot to say on this topic.
Reverse Engineer Your Content Strategy
The biggest opportunity Robert sees in the content marketing arena right now is for businesses to move to a more holistic thought process around content in general. Creating content for the sake of creating content simply isn’t enough anymore. Obviously, the content needs to be valuable on its own. Taking it one step further, he says, and making it part of a deeply strategic plan that aligns with the overall goals of the company, however, is a gamechanger.
When content is created strategically, companies end up with assets that become profitable rather than simply static one-and-done elements, Robert says. He points to SalesForce.com’s annual Dream Force event as an example. This event, that was created as a strategic value-add for the company’s clients, has grown to become an asset that could be worth up to $1 billion if sold off on its own. That sounds pretty profitable to us . . .
Here’s what Robert suggests if you want to create content that could generate a profit: Incorporate a strategic flow to the content that takes customers on a journey to become buyers. Let each piece of content created add value on its own, while at the same time ensuring there’s a thread connecting each element so they’re building additional exponential value altogether.
Not surprisingly, B2B consumer data supports what Robert is suggesting: Demand Gen Reports Content Preferences Survey of B2B buyers indicates that 88% of B2B buyers want content providers to focus on value for the content consumer. The survey also revealed that 40% of B2B buyers consume between 3 – 5 assets before engaging with a salesperson.
“Content should be a strategic function in our business. It is as important as legal or accounting or any function in the business worth investing in.” – Robert Rose, Founder – The Content Advisory
Let Content Lead the Business
Robert also debunked the myth that a company’s content team should act as a separate agency within the business. According to Robert, savvy CEOs will adopt a philosophy that encourages content strategy to lead the business rather than follow behind and simply react to and support what’s already happening. By splitting content creation capacity between a predetermined strategic content plan and being responsive to the needs and campaigns of the other departments within the business, the company can let strategic thinking lead the way to success.
By letting the content strategy lead, a company harnesses the power of the customer journey to generate better results.
To hear more from Robert Rose, listen to our interview with him: Two Lies and a Truth About Content Marketing and Making It Truly Profitable