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September 12, 2022 Shownotes:

Great content marketing delivers value to an audience, independent of the brand that created it. This nugget was shared by Robert Rose, Chief Strategy Advisor of The Content Marketing Institute in our latest podcast. From capturing first-party data to measuring KPIs, this episode will help you further develop your 2023 content marketing strategy to be a valuable resource for your audience.

Rochelle Reiter: [00:00:00] This is The 19 a podcast that delivers marketing insights from Orange Label in 19 minutes or less. This year, the agency is celebrating fifty years of working with established brands that are driven by a fearless entrepreneurial mindset. What does this mean for you? It means enriched conversations and stories with marketing and leadership experts aimed at improving lives.

Rochelle Reiter: [00:00:28] Hello and welcome to The 19: Entrepreneur Edition! I’m Rochelle Reiter, President of Orange Label. I read a quote in Publisher’s Weekly recently that said, “Content is the engine that drives visibility.” What I love about this quote is that it emphasizes just how important content is in your marketing strategy. If your content is driving your visibility, you want that engine to be reliable. You don’t want to churn out content that sputters out just after a few clicks. As the Content Marketing Institute says, it’s about creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content that attracts a clearly defined audience and ultimately drives action specializing in content, longevity, strategy and creation. The Content Marketing Institute has been an industry leading resource for over a decade, and today we’re so excited to speak with the institute’s Chief Strategy Advisor, Robert Rose. Robert has worked on content strategy for global brands, including Capital One, NASA, Dell, McCormick Spices and Microsoft, and he’s even written three books on marketing. Without further ado, here he is. Robert, welcome to The 19.

Robert Rose: [00:01:32] Oh, thank you so much for having me. Great to be here.

Rochelle Reiter: [00:01:39] So you’ve been with the Content Marketing Institute for over ten years. Can you tell us about your role as Chief Strategy Advisor?

Robert Rose: [00:01:46] Well, sure. It’s funny, I started as Chief Strategy Officer, and that was back when we were quite literally four people. And I met this guy, Joe Pulizzi, back in 2009, 2008, and we met at a conference and we started talking about content marketing. And we were we were, we were birds of a feather and fast friends immediately. And the interesting thing is, is that he was just starting Content Marketing Institute at that time, and I was just coming off of a CMO role. And the whole thing was, can we evangelize this new process called content marketing in larger enterprises? And so it started out really my role there is was sort of the Chief Strategy Officer to half my job was to help the organization grow and get bigger and do all the things that it wanted to do around events and media and all those things. And then the second half was I built a consulting and education division for the company to build a curriculum, as well as a consulting practice to help bigger brands be able to bring this whole content marketing thing to life. And then in 2016, post acquisition, I was no longer an employee of the company, but I stayed partnered with the organization. Joe rode off into the sunset and started writing novels and doing his thing, and I basically stuck around and had a job and they didn’t want any of the consulting or the or the education part of it. So I spun up my own little company called Content Advisory and still partner with CMI for the event and the media and the strategy part of the engagement. And basically that is my role these days with, with Content Marketing Institute because I lost the officer part of the title, I became Chief Strategy Advisor.

Rochelle Reiter: [00:03:26] What would you say are the elements of a powerful content marketing strategy?

Robert Rose: [00:03:32] Well, the first is a real understanding of our audience. And and it’s different than because what we’re doing is driving that value with content. So great content marketing delivers value to an audience independent of the fact that we are the ones to bring it to you. In other words, it’s separate from the brand or the product that we’re marketing in the marketplace. It’s just valuable, you know? So I always use the classic example of HubSpot in this example because in the early days I might argue that they don’t do it so much anymore. They’ve lost their way a little bit on content marketing, but in the early days they would give you information on the practice and the the methodology and the best tips and tricks and value of inbound marketing. And it didn’t matter that it was HubSpot. The magic of it was that it was just valuable content brought to you by HubSpot. So it was a great education, regardless of the fact that it had HubSpot to you. But the real magic here is can we deliver that value? And the only way that we can really, truly deliver value is if we understand the audience well enough to know what they will value. And that’s different than looking at things like buyer personas or those kinds of things, because that’s important. I came out of product marketing and I understand the value of a buyer persona, but it only delivers value while they’re in that very small and short time frame attribute of being a buyer. We have to understand people in what they value way beyond the buying process and generally what they value so that they actually come to the conclusion that our product or service is something that they may need.

Rochelle Reiter: [00:05:09] Mm hmm. So really understanding your audience.

Robert Rose: [00:05:11] Yeah, it’s absolutely understanding the details. You know, I often equate content marketing looks a lot more like product development than it does direct marketing and advertising. Because what we’re really trying to do is, is get to the answer of four questions of what, you know, depending on the methodology you love, what is the job to be done or the design thinking or the true value of this content to this audience, to how do I deliver that content in a way that is best consumed by that? Audience three How do I get that in the widest possible reach and promote that content so that the consumer has a chance to consume it? And for how do I measure success by that consumption and having very direct objectives and goals to be able to do that. So it sounds like you’re releasing a product which is actually what you’re really kind of doing.

Rochelle Reiter: [00:06:05] Sure.

Robert Rose: [00:06:06] Is releasing something that will actually serve as an adjunct or a corollary to your product or service and deliver value just like it would.

Rochelle Reiter: [00:06:15] So you have the content marketing strategy. You mentioned performance at the end. In terms of performance, how do you recommend measuring the success of your content marketing?

Robert Rose: [00:06:25] Yeah, this seems to be the sixty-four million dollar question, doesn’t it? Which is it’s the most common question we get. And by the way, you know how to measure marketing full stop is often a question, not just content marketing. So content market. He isn’t alone in this in this capacity. But what we find is, is that having really clear objectives around that value that you’re trying to deliver to the audience, because ultimately, when you have clear objectives around the value you’re delivering to the audience, you should have clear objectives about what that audience will do for you. In other words, if I’m very clear that I’m trying to drive value to become aware of the my point of view on the world or our particular the problem that we solve our company solves in the world, you know, inbound marketing. Again, a great example of that. I want everybody to be aware of inbound marketing so that when you get attached to that idea, you go looking for the next solution that can provide that great idea, which of course is HubSpot. That’s the ultimate goal there. But if you’ve got a really clear objective about the value that you want to deliver, well then you’ve probably got a good objective about what it is you want to deliver at that part of the customer’s journey. Is it a the awareness level or is it just delivering a smarter, better lead to sales? Or is it about putting more butts in the seats so that sales has a chance to talk with them? Or is it about creating loyalty or less churn with a customer by delivering extra value? How to value on a usage of a content piece. There’s all kinds of specific objectives we might have about a customer delivering value to us at any part of their journey. So the question is, how do you tie that objective with the value to the audience? And so once I understand that well, now I can start associating KPIs, key performance indicators to indicate how am I progressing toward that objective? If it’s brand awareness, I can assign KPIs to that. If it’s more leads in the funnel, I can assign KPIs to that. If it’s more valuable leads in the funnel, I can assign KPIs to that. So understanding that overall objective is is the first is the first piece of that, and then assigning your metrics to understand your progress toward that objective is the second step.

Rochelle Reiter: [00:08:39] Sure. How long for the average say client of yours does it take for that content to gain traction? Like what’s the time frame?

Robert Rose: [00:08:49] Great question. Great question. And the answer is nobody knows because I’ve seen I’ve seen results in a few days and I’ve seen results in a few years. What we see on average coming back to our sort of product methodology analogy for a moment, we do have to get successful with the content before we can become successful with the goals. And what I mean by that is that so often I hear, Oh, we launched a blog and on day two it’s not proven, it’s not producing any leads. Therefore the blog is a failure. No, it’s not an ad campaign. It’s not meant to provide immediate results. You have to get the blog to be successful first. You have to get audiences to it. You have to get visitors to it, you have to get subscribers to it. Then it might start to produce those leads, or then it might start to produce that awareness. So that gap in time frame means that content marketing is always best played as a long game, and the average that we see is nine months. Once you start a content marketing program, we start seeing meaningful results, typically within 6 to 9 months. So if a CMO or a marketer comes up to me, Oh, we want to do content marketing. How do I get results next month? I go go run a paid advertising campaign because content marketing is not for you. If you need results next month, if you’re ready to invest in the long game into buying a home instead of renting an apartment, now all of a sudden we’re talking a different investment model in a different time frame.

Rochelle Reiter: [00:10:15] Sure, I agree with that. There’s been a lot of talk about first party data, especially with all the restrictions out there on data. Can you talk a little bit about how first party data can inform a brand’s content strategy?

Robert Rose: [00:10:29] That’s where the magic is, you know, and it’s become ever more complex now that the third party cookies going away, third party data is going away, it’s becoming increasingly difficult. It’s becoming increasingly more complex. As new privacy regulations come online, as major providers like Apple start to obfuscate things like email data and all those sorts of things, that doesn’t mean we need to give up on it, and in fact, it means we need to double down and lean into it. It’s one of the things that content marketing really does provide a value to is it’s inherently built to build subscribed audiences, and so it’s built inherently to capture first party data, not because you scanned their badge at a trade show booth and gave them a squishy ball. And not because you you ultimately gave them some white paper, but because they’re giving you the data willingly trusting me because they value what it is you gave them so much that they want more of it, right? They want to subscribe to that blog or that newsletter or that magazine or that YouTube channel or whatever it is. They want to give you data in exchange for that. And that’s when it becomes truly valuable, is when you’ve got data that’s in there because they want you to have. And then it becomes the the ability to use that data not only for insight like how are we doing in reaching our sweet spot audience? How does these how do our targeted programs, how are they performing? We can start to see are we delivering a bunch of job seekers and competitors versus leads and sales opportunities, or are we delivering more of the latter? And it gives us the ability ultimately to start to target some of that content in a better way, right? So things like personalization or targeted content and those kinds of things are all built on the back of first party data. And one of the things that I find that is so interesting is that we’re so wrapped around the axle of trying to capture things like first name, last name, title, buying stage, etc., etc.. We lose some of the most valuable first party data that we can get, which is intent, right? So for example, one of my favorite suggestions for B2B marketers is why don’t you run a test on your resource center instead of asking for an email address for that access to that white paper? Why don’t you just ask them what do you intend with this? Like, where are you right now? Don’t even ask for any personal information. Just ask them what they think, what they what they’re thinking right now. What are they looking for? It’ll give you so much more insight about how you acquired that traffic and where they might be in their process and run that test for a little while or run it for every third person that comes in or whatever it happens to be. Start capturing more than just contact information as part of your first party data acquisition strategy.

Rochelle Reiter: [00:13:09] Yeah, that’s great insight. You touched on it a little bit earlier when we were talking about gaining traction, but can you talk a little bit about advertising, paid advertising versus content marketing?

Robert Rose: [00:13:19] Sure, they are. you know they’re related, right? And so it’s paying for reach in the first sense, right? So paid advertising is ostensibly just paid media where I’m paying for the privilege of getting my content independent of what that content is in front of an eyeball. And I’m leveraging some platform in order to do that. I’m either promoting a social post or I’m putting a thirty second ad on television or a 30 second ad on radio, or I’m paying for the read out in a podcast or whatever it happens to be. I’m paying for the privilege of getting my content guaranteed in front of hopefully a sweet spot sort of target audience and content marketing is then how do I deal with driving acquisition of subscribers and building my audience typically using owned media platform. So your resource center, your blog, your email newsletter, that which you own and can guarantee the reach. So they’re both interestingly measured in this in a similar fashion, which is how many people can I reach and what’s my cost to reach them? So typically, if I can build an audience of a thousand people who want to hear from me every week, that’s going to be more valuable than an advertising audience of a thousand people that quite honestly don’t want to hear from me. They just want the program to continue.

Rochelle Reiter: [00:14:37] Sure.

Robert Rose: [00:14:38] And so, however, I may want to promote my podcast or my blog or my website using paid media to bring them into my content. So they’re intricately and I’m a huge paid media believer. All of this is part of the greater marketing mix, and I think they’re all super important. It’s as it has been for the last sixty years, it’s been how do we manage our marketing mix and balance our cocktail of wonderful content and distribution methods to basically move the business in the biggest way?

Rochelle Reiter: [00:15:08] Sure. In terms of trends for 2022, for content marketing, what are you seeing right now?

Robert Rose: [00:15:14] I think the biggest trend that we see is that and this speaks to what we were just talking about, which is this merging of content marketing becoming just an integrated part of the marketing strategy, right? So gone are the days when there are sort of separate teams and separate people doing content marketing like things and another separate team doing like other marketing things, right? So what we find now is that marketing teams, generally speaking, they’re focused on content, full stop, right? So customer experience and content. Some of it may be content marketing, some of it may be brochures, some of it may be thought leadership, some of it may be customer service content, etc., etc.. We see content becoming a full function strategy in the business of which content marketing is a part of. So it’s part of a bigger ecosystem of managing content, sometimes called content operations these days, and really helping brands understand how to balance that sort of mix of of everything they’re doing. That trend is really born from that noise that we talked about a little bit ago, that sort of how do I start piercing that noise? I’ve got to balance my output in the right way that I’m not just fitting into the ocean where I’m actually adding meaningful value in the right time because you just don’t have you just can’t scale it right? You just can’t scale to be more have more output than anybody else. You’ve got to get better at quality.

Rochelle Reiter: [00:16:35] Sure. What is your biggest piece of advice for brands looking to elevate their content?

Robert Rose: [00:16:42] Slow down, right? One of the things that happens a lot when I talk to a CMO or a CFO, that content marketing strategy is they’ll say, yeah, well we’re doing it, we’re we’re already doing it. And it’s we’re really flailing at it and we’re producing way too much content. And I’m like, You probably are. You probably are creating way too much content. What I interestingly, side note, what I normally find is, is that brands don’t produce too much content. They actually just produce too many digital assets, right? They’re just they’re just spewing out PDF files and images and YouTube videos and all sorts of things without really thinking about the amount of great content that’s underneath that. And so the, the, the, the remedy to that is to add in planning and a creative process before you start putting pen to paper or mouse to Illustrator file or keyboard to blog post or whatever it is. What should we be creating and how can we create more that that planning process is almost never there? You know, we immediately go, Oh, I need a blog post, I need a white paper, I need an ad, I need this. And we just jump into execution mode and we just create more and more and more and more without really thinking how do we get this planning process about looking out outward and forward in time in terms of what we should be creating? What happens is, is that the big pushback to that is. Sounds like you’re going to slow things down. Yeah, spoiler alert, we’re going to slow things down. We’re going to slow down the creation process so that we exponentially increase the speed of production, re-use, repackaging and measuring of content on the back side of things, slowing down the creation process so that you can speed up your ability to produce more stuff and to get it into more places and really understand how it’s all working.

Rochelle Reiter: [00:18:32] That’s great advice Robert. Thank you so much for joining us on The 19 today. It was so awesome having you!

Robert Rose: [00:18:39] Absolutely a pleasure.

Rochelle Reiter: [00:18:44] Thank you for listening to The 19: Entrepreneur Edition with Robert Rose. More of Robert’s work, including his weekly marketing series Rose Colored Glasses, can be found on Content Marketing Institute dot com. If you’d like to learn more about Orange Label’s content marketing services, visit our website at Orange Label Advertising dot com. If you have additional thoughts on this topic, send us an email. You can send questions, comments and more to R-R-E-I-T-E-R at Orange Label Advertising dot com.

Rochelle Reiter: [00:19:14] A special thank you goes out to our contributors Senior Studio Manager Kelsey Phillips, Micah Panzich, who edits our show, and Ashley Ruiz, Senior Content Writer. Be sure to subscribe to The 19 on Apple Podcasts, Google Play and Spotify, and, if you like what you heard today, leave us a review!

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