Yes, that's right... 2013 is just about upon us.
At almost every event I've attended over the past few months, content marketing sessions are standing-room only. Marketing professionals are hungry for any way that they can continue their content marketing journey and attract and retain customers with compelling content. To help, I've dissected my last few presentations and put together seven critical strategies that I believe all marketers need to consider as they head into next year.
1. Watch "Content 2020″ from Coca-Cola
Every time I present at an event, I give the attendees a homework assignment: to watch Coca-Cola's two-part Content 2020 whiteboard video series. Content 2020 is Coke's "Jerry McGuire" mission statement on moving the organization from creative excellence to content excellence. Coca-Cola has been a marketing leader for a long time, and here the brand again proves that it is more than qualified to play with the big boys. Just recently, Coca-Cola launched its "Journey" program, backed by an army of journalists and editors. For any marketer around the world, this is important stuff. Time to pay attention to what Coke is doing.
2. Develop your content marketing mission statement
I've surveyed about 1,000 people over the past month, asking each if they have developed an editorial mission, or content marketing mission statement, for their content strategies. Easily less than 5% had something like this prepared, let alone a content marketing strategy.
This is a major problem. How can we execute a content strategy if we don't have a clear vision for why we are developing the content in the first place?
Every person that touches the content marketing program should know, by heart, what the mission of the content strategy is. In addition, if you don't have a content vision, how do you know which stories should or should not be included. This is a major problem.
3. A new mindset: Become the leading informational provider for your niche
Brands aren't taking their content seriously enough. Sure, we are creating content in dozens of channels for multiple marketing objectives. But is your organization's mindset focused on being the leading provider of information for your customers? If not, why isn't that your priority?
Look, our customers and prospects can get their information from anywhere to make buying decisions. Why shouldn't that information come from us? Shouldn't that at least be the goal?
For 2013, be determined to tell a different story, not just the same story as your competitors, only incrementally better. Better is not good enough.
4. Utility is key
I absolutely love the Charmin Clean Bathroom App. If you are desperate to find a clean bathroom nearby, and this app provides the answers for you, what do you think the odds are that you would buy Charmin the next time you go to the store?
What if you used Kraft's iFood app to help you make your next home-cooked meal? Small businesses find regular answers to their operational challenges at AMEX's Open Forum.
Take a hard look at your content and see if what you are producing is actually useful for your customers. Is it making their lives better or jobs easier in some way?
5. Define and answer your customers' questions
This is so easy to do, yet most of us don't do it. Do you have a system in place to compile the questions your customers are asking and post your answers to those questions on the web? The content opportunities that spring up from customer service and sales alone can support your content marketing strategy.
6. Employee involvement in content marketing
Take a look at these two projects:
These are two great examples of successful content initiatives that have helped to grow business, were developed from the ground up with a limited budget, and were driven almost entirely by employee content.
Andrew Davis' new book Brandscaping discusses how content partnerships can work. Essentially, a brandscape is a collection of brands that work together to produce great content. I'm starting to believe that this is critical to the evolution of content marketing, as more brands struggle to manage the content marketing process.
It's true that many brands struggle with finding the funding for content marketing projects. Why not work with non-competitive partners to develop amazing and compelling content for a similar customer?