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How to Balance the Content Marketing Equation

You know the feeling: Just when you think you have something (almost) all figured out, someone goes and blows up your self-image. As the person responsible for Eloqua’s content marketing efforts, that’s how I felt when reading Altimeter Group’s latest research: Content: The New Marketing Equation.

Turns out, however, illumination can be a very good feeling.

You see, today’s report, published by Rebecca Lieb, is filled with practical tips and heady observations for those just cutting their teeth on the practice, all the way up to forward-looking companies like Nestle (whose program, I was delighted to discover in the report, is run by one of the most influential figures in modern marketing practices, Pete Blackshaw). This accessible “content marketing for everyone” framework is central to the report – Lieb (and her researchers Zach Kirchner and Jaimy Szymanski) go so far as to apply an intuitive metaphor to a company’s content marketing maturity: Stand, Stretch, Walk, Jog, Run. (Eloqua’s own program was highlighted as the example of “Walk,” that is, a model characterized by strategy and processes.)

I won’t be so bold as to review the report. It’s relatively brief and written in Lieb’s signature “smart-but-not-haughty” style. Instead, I’ll share with you a few of the lessons I learned:

  1. Conventional wisdom can be a trap. One blog, regardless of how compelling the articles are, isn’t necessarily the answer. For example, Indium created a whopping 73 blogs to accomplish its particular goals. (Note: We are sticking with "It's All About Revenue" ... don't expect any new blogs from Eloqua.)

  2. Culture isn’t limited to the marketing department. When I think about inspiring colleagues to participate in our content efforts, I think first about my colleagues in marketing. But a true content culture is pan-organizational. It involves everyone.

  3. Writing isn’t (necessarily) storytelling. Certainly when we hired our corporate reporter, Jesse Noyes, we did so because he writes well, delivers quickly, and hates buzzwords. But Jesse’s real magic lies in his ability to tell stories. Sometimes you don’t know what you’ve got until … an analyst report points it out for you.

  4. There’s always another gear. Until reading this report, I’d considered the apex of content marketing to be the DeBeers “three months salary” guidelines – a remarkable program in which the supplier tells the buyer how much to spend (a lot) on their products. Well, it turns out, there’s another level entirely. Red Bull not only uses content marketing to move more hyper-caffeinated drinks, but it also has a content division (including a record label and print magazine) with its own P&L responsibility.

The report is embedded below. Consistent with the letter and spirit of the study, Altimeter has made it available for free.

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