Voices of CRM

Dec 6 2011   2:20PM GMT

Gilbane Conference Roundup: Winning and losing content marketing strategies

Rosemary Cafasso Profile: Rosecafasso

Marketing experts offered plenty of advice last week at the Gilbane Conference in Boston to companies searching for ways to use content with social and mobile platforms as a way to grab customers’ attention. In short, they said companies should stay focused on the basics of content marketing, not overdo it when it comes to technology tools and stop thinking they are “all that.”

Time for a reality check. A big problem for companies using social or mobile technologies for marketing is they forget that the social piece needs to square with reality, said Georgy Cohen, a consultant and the former web content and strategy manager at Tufts University.

Too often companies will make noise on a social channel but don’t have the goods to back it up.

For example, a company can pitch their product to customers using Foursquare, a mobile application that lets people “check-in” with their location. But if they aren’t offering some kind of value, like a coupon, customers will probably not be impressed. Or, a company may display a QR code on a product or collateral material, but the code leads to a boring Web page with no added value. The end result: no compelling reason to buy the product. What’s worse, the customer may feel they just wasted their time.

So, make sure the social piece extends a real marketing plan, otherwise customers will discover what author Gertrude Stein once said: “There is no there there.”

Or as Cohen put it, “Don’t bother being awesome on Twitter if you are not awesome in real life.”

Pass the butter.“Content marketing is like butter,” said, Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute. “It makes everything you eat taste better but you wouldn’t necessarily eat it by itself.”

In a presentation, Pulizzi said marketers are often stumped to come up with a content strategy to support marketing efforts. “Stop with the [technology] tools,” he said, “Tools come and go.” To create a content strategy, focus on “what’s interesting about you.”

Recent research by the Content Marketing Institute showed that 65% of companies it surveyed had some kind of blog, up from 28% three years ago. However, “that doesn’t mean it’s all good content,” Pulizzi added.

Phases of mobile marketing adoption: Tom Wentworth, chief marketing officer at Ektron, a content management software company, said many companies still haven’t figured out how to best use mobile devices to reach customers. Some have moved on to a “mobile focus” where they’ve mobile-enabled some pages to be optimized for hand-held devices. When making this shift, companies should make careful, objective content decisions and not try to port the whole web site to smartphones and tablets. He likens many home pages to an episode of “Hoarders” a cable television show about people who cannot throw away anything and jam their homes with stuff, much of it useless. Many home pages will display an overload of content – often clearly the result of content decisions by committee – as well as generic ads that are not targeted and therefore irrelevant to many customers, Wentworth said. He has great hopes that “smart phones will force clarity.”

There is more to it than just your own content. Marissa Peacock, a social media consultant and reporter for CMSwire, a website focused on content management, said organizations can boost their credibility by sharing other people’s content as part of their own content marketing efforts.

“It’s not just about you,” Peacock said, when advocating the sharing of content at a panel discussion.  If companies give the nod to other content producers,  “that’s how [customers] will look to you to find out what’s important,” she added.

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