Like the fairest belle at the ball, content marketing danced across the 2013 stage, grabbing headlines and conference slots, nearly displacing social media as the year's hot topic. However, seasoned marketers found all the recent attention mildly amusing given that content creation has been on their marketing dance cards for years.
Five highly successful marketers shared their thoughts on content marketing with me as part of a larger study commissioned by The CMO Club among recent winners of The CMO Awards. Despite the extreme differences of targets and industries, these professionals share a common commitment to creating relevant content that is of genuine value and emphasizes engagement over self-promotion.
Stephanie Anderson, CMO, Time Warner Cable Business Class: "Content marketing is hot, but not new. In technology, that is the way we work-be relevant, educate and then solve. We are increasing our investment [in content marketing], not because we are following a trend, but because our own thought leadership and solutions have advanced and we need to be able to tell our stories quickly and with the prospect or customer in mind."
Beth Comstock, CMO, GE: "We've been on a path as a content producer for several years now. We've widened our definition of content to include data, experiences and, yes, emotional connection and even humor. Content has to be useful and relevant to be effective. We've invested in a range of skills like data visualization and user interaction design as a way to drive content that is engaging and relevant. The marvels of science, engineering and manufacturing offer good fodder for content, and we're constantly seeking out storytellers who get as excited about this as we do."
Marty St. George, CMO, JetBlue: "I think 'content' is a concept that's going to become obsolete very soon; rather than focusing on content as a means, we focus on engagement as the end. Content is one of many ways to create engagement, but certainly not the only way. We have done some innovative programs (like Getaway With It) but we do it with the goal of engagement."
Michael Lacorazza, SVP Brand & Advertising, Wells Fargo: "We view all of our communications as content, even our paid advertising. And, more than ever, there needs to be a value exchange with the customer. Marketers can no longer 'message' at the customer at scaled weight levels. The customer expects much more and looks to us to deliver relevant content on their terms."
Raj Rao, VP of Global eTransformation, 3M: "We do believe that content marketing holds the key to success with our top two digital priorities. Through our work in the healthcare (dental) industry, where we've invested in several content marketing programs, we have seen strong progress with eCommerce sales and actionable insights based on customer engagement. In the social media programs, content marketing is driving much stronger brand engagement, fueling the growth of advocates and influential followers on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. In China, our content programs in TMall and Weibo are leading to remarkable improvements in sales for both B2B and B2C sales."
If you have other thoughts on content marketing, please let me know.