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Content Marketing Minds: Are You on a Mission to Fail?
Posted on March 27th 2014
Joe is the man—with a plan. Junta Joe. Some call him the godfather of content marketing. The man has almost as many nicknames as the city of New Orleans (though he calls Cleveland home). Let’s move on.
Joe is a great leader. He’s a great writer. A great speaker. A great dad. He’s kind of fashion forward. Joe could create content to teach any or all of the above. But he doesn’t.
See, Joe is a man on a mission. He founded the Content Marketing Institute (CMI). It’s become the de facto home of content marketing knowledge.Source: http://about.me/joepulizzi
CMI has a very clear mission. It’s dedicated to helping companies grow profits, reduce marketing spend, and create happier customers by delivering better content. Across its properties, which include a robust blog, CCO magazine, and events online and off, it adheres to a mission statement for its content, which goes something like this:
Advance the practice of content marketing by giving brand marketers resources to help them understand how to plan and execute content marketing strategies.
Do you have a clear mission statement for your content marketing efforts? If you don’t, you’re on a mission to fail.
It’s time to think like a publisher.
The phrase “brand storytelling” suggests an undeniable reality in the age of new media. Brands are becoming publishers—or at least the ones aiming to create a community of fans are. It follows then, if you want to prosper as a publisher, you should adopt the best practices common to the best and most successful media companies.
It’s no accident Joe borrows from the tenets of publishing. He comes from the world of publishing.
About a month ago, I attended the Intelligent Content Conference where Joe delivered the opening keynote. The first thing I learned was Joe and I have a mutual adoration of the comedy of the great George Carlin.
Amongst Carlin’s classic routines is “Stuff.” In his hilarious segment, Carlin talks about our obsession with creating and storing stuff, largely, useless stuff. Carlin says we have houses because we need to store our stuff. He says your house is a stuff container with a cover on it. Joe poses the question, “Is your website also a container of worthless stuff?”
It shouldn’t be. It should house valuable stuff.
So where do you begin when building your house of valuable stuff? You got it, a mission statement.
You can’t boil the ocean.
In “The One Thing Media Companies Have that You Need,” a recent post from Joe on LinkedIn, he wrote your mission statement must:
- Articulate your approach to the content and industry.
- Clearly define who the content is for.
- State how the content will satisfy the needs of the readership.
Joe went on to explain content marketers fail when they try to “boil the ocean,” that is, cover an overly broad spectrum of subject matter without a clear focus.
At the conference I mentioned, I had the chance to speak to Joe and asked him if he believes most content marketers have a mission statement or even a plan. Joe explained, as he has in many articles and presentations, the vast majority of brands DO have content marketing initiatives, but DON’T have documented publishing strategies. Not surprisingly, research indicates the majority of brand marketers also feel their content marketing efforts are ineffective (or claim they don’t really know to what degree they’re effective).
But maybe we’re wrong.
Of course, in his keynote, as he hammered away on the need to create and abide by a mission statement, Joe presented a few strong examples.
P&G’s “Home Made Simple” was one such example. Its mission statement:
Whether it’s a delicious recipe, an inspiring décor idea or a refreshing approach to organizing, we strive to help you [Moms] create a home that’s truly your own. Everything we do here is designed to empower and inspire you to make your home even better, and most importantly, a place you love to be. (Source: Why You Need a Content Marketing Mission Statement)
I decided I’d write an article for this column on the topic and thought it’d be cool to showcase the mission statements of modern content marketers. I thought a number of companies would jump at the chance of being featured in the post.
To gather examples, I logged into a few LinkedIn Groups focused on content marketing. There, I posted my offer. Guess what I got?
To be fair, a few content marketers took a stab at it, but made it painfully clear they didn’t understand my request. I got a few reasons why they do content marketing, which had nothing to do with their content or their audience.
I tried Twitter.
Hypothesis confirmed. Content marketers don’t understand the need for mission statements.
What’s the point?
I call my blog “The Point.” And I try to stay on point with my mission: offer new and struggling content marketers tools and tactics to turn on the power of online marketing. If I succeed, it's because I remain on-point and forever focused on fulfilling this mission.
This jives with Joe’s explanation of the value of the mission statement:
Your editorial mission will become the core of all the content you create, and also needs to become a rallying cry for your team, and something for your readership to believe in. (Source: LinkedIn post cited above.)
Marketers on a mission.
Unsurprisingly, content marketers that are enjoying the most success have a content marketing plan and a clear mission statement. I’ll show you some examples. Understand, I didn’t always find the mission statements conveniently presented on a plaque, so I attempted to extrapolate them. However, with each example, it’s clear the brand is indeed on a mission.
American Express OPEN Forum has a mission: Help entrepreneurs share ideas, get and give advice, and discuss experiences leading to small business success.
Help Scout publishes data-driven insights about customer loyalty and building a company people love.
Optum.com aims to offer readers information they can use to get healthy and stay healthy.
Recruiting Division, a client of mine, publishes content to help IT recruiters realize greater success staffing their growing companies.
At LearningGuitarNow.com, the website and blog delivers lessons to help blues and slide guitarists develop proper techniques to improve their playing.
As you can see, mission statements are simple. They are the result of carefully considering where the characteristics of your brand intersect with the information needs of your prospects and customers. The mission statement simply declares what your content is for—and who. As such, the mission statement also helps dictate what your content will not be—and who it's not for.