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What’s Missing From the Content Marketing Conversation

September 11, 2015 | By Christine Polewarczyk

  • Content marketing has be.come a huge buzzword and trend in b-to-b marketing
  • The truth is that many b-to-b organizations haven’t clearly defined what this term really means to them
  • It’s time for content marketing teams to evolve past top-of-funnel focus and conversion-oriented metrics alone

Content marketing has become a huge buzzword and trend in b-to-b marketing. But the truth is that many b-to-b organizations haven’t clearly defined what this term really means to them. They jump on the content marketing bandwagon with only a vague sense of what “content marketing” means and how it will fit into their overall marketing strategy. I’ve heard variations of all the following statements multiple times over the past few years:

We want to become thought leaders in our space using content marketing.

We’re launching a new blog so we can start doing content marketing.

We are going to do content marketing to improve our SEO.

We’re creating a content marketing team to drive more leads.

On the one hand, I’m thrilled that after years of personally evangelizing audience-centric and content-centric campaigns and communications, we have finally reached a maturity point where b-to-b marketers are recognizing the value and importance of content. I am thankful for the surge in popularity in content marketing for getting us where we are right now. Hallelujah for audience-centricity, thought leadership and quality content!

On the other hand, b-to-b organizations need to better define what they mean by content marketing. Even more so, they need to start thinking bigger than content marketing – because just “doing content marketing” won’t necessarily translate into thought leadership status, increased traffic or leads without a full content strategy or content operations to support it.

It’s time for content marketing teams to evolve past top-of-funnel focus or conversion-oriented metrics alone and become true centers of excellence for all things related to content strategy and operations so they can address, optimize and measure the impact of content on the entire audience journey/lifecycle.

Having a few marketers with “content marketing” or “content strategist” titles isn’t enough to achieve b-to-b content success. A formalized functional team that serves a center of excellence in a hub-and-spoke model with other cross-functional teams is required for an organization to move beyond tactical content activities and achieve true strategic and measurable business impact.

The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) – which can largely be given credit for coining the term “content marketing” and solidifying it within the modern b-to-b marketing lexicon – defines content marketing this way:

“Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

To CMI and Joe Pulizzi, first – let me say that I love you guys. I think you’re awesome, and I’ve been a huge fan for years. But here’s my beef: Isn’t what they are describing exactly what marketing was supposed to be doing all along? Marketing has always been the factory for content within the business.

The next frontier in content marketing is to evolve past blogs, e-books, infographics, slideware, podcasts and other asset-driven production. A formalized content function that includes people, processes and technologies that address the full span of content strategy, content marketing and content operations is what’s needed next to realize the true potential of what content-centric marketing can deliver to b-to-b businesses.  

Christine Polewarczyk

Christine is a VP, research director in Marketing Executive Services at SiriusDecisions, specializing in content strategy and operations. She has more than 20 years of experience in B2B technology, content, campaigns and digital marketing across a range of in-house, agency and consulting roles. Follow Christine on Twitter @Christine_Mktg

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