Warning: Contains Explicit Marketing Content
The term “Marketing Content” seems to be all around us. It’s not a passing fancy nor, as Cole Porter once wrote, a fancy pass (sorry, I couldn’t resist). Marketing Content is the way many companies now support their core values, mission statement, and messages. It can be considered the expansion of these long accepted marketing pillars. If executed correctly, it can not only create new business but it can reinforce the buying decision made by a company’s existing customer base and create opportunities for thought leadership and stronger brand awareness.
In marketing terms, content has become King. Calloused by direct sales pitches, buyers — both consumer and corporate — have become quite clever in avoiding advertising. Whether by using DVRs to skip commercials, clicking on “No, thanks, continue to site” on web pages, or by sending cold callers directly to voice mail, buyers are making marketers earn their money. I believe that this development, in itself, is a positive step forward. The ways in which to say “We’re the best” have all been explored by now. What is required today is demonstrating actual market differentiators by speaking the language of the target audience.
The best marketing content does not come from the CEO or the visionaries who founded the company. While their input is vital to high-level corporate messaging, compelling content resides in the souls of those who are providing the goods and services for the company. A good content editor can mine these pieces of marketing gold by nurturing and encouraging input from staff. A good example is a financial technology (FinTech) company whose product teams are building business specifications for new solutions. These are the Subject Matter Experts (SME) who speak the language of the industry they are serving. Any blogs, papers or articles from this groups are considered peer pieces. Not only SMEs, but developers, support staff, business and technical analysts can be prime sources of content. A content editor should be able to ask the right questions, extract the salient points, and create, at the very least, a thought-invoking blog. The better editors can build this from just a set of bullets provided by a team member.
I’m not saying this is easy. For some, the content editor will be viewed as a demanding English teacher tapping her foot for the assigned composition. I’ve found others, however, who were thrilled by simply being asked, allowing their inner Hemmingway to come out. For those many firms who include “our people” as a distinct market differentiator, using staff as a source for marketing content is almost a litmus test of that very claim.
Before approaching any staff for content, a clear marketing content strategy must be defined. The strategy comes filtered down from the top to support corporate messages and core values. The content is comprised of the finer points that add up to a corporate culture. The strategy should include an editorial calendar, similar to that of any publication. In fact, the content strategy can be considered a corporation’s entry into self-publishing. If done right, content marketing can be a powerful tool for generating new business and raising a company’s profile.
Goodbye, Father Hesburgh. And Thank You
Being one of those often looked-down-upon subway alumni of Notre Dame, I find myself constantly tracking news of the university, whether it’s the highly publicized triumphs and defeats in football, the great and near-great achievements of women’s basketball, the highlights of men’s hockey, or even lacrosse victories. So it was with a particular sadness that I read about the passing of, arguably, the university’s most famous and successful president, Reverend Theodore Hesburgh. Father Hesburgh, besides elevating Notre Dame’s academic reputation, championed (“champion” being used here in its truest sense) the rights of the poor and mistreated, as well as world peace. He was an advisor to six presidents and served on sixteen presidential commissions. He was even fired by Richard Nixon, a fact, I think, that helps to cement each of their respective historical standings.
“Father Ted” (hey, I’m just about entitled to be so familiar, having spent 12 years in parochial school and eventually graduating from Fordham – that “other” Jesuit university) even had an impact on Notre Dame’s financial position, raising the endowment from $9M in 1952 – when he first took office – to $6B today. Financially adept, in tune with each and every major social issue of his day, Father Ted was someone to admire, and even aspire to be. He once wrote,
“My basic principle is that you don’t make decisions because they are easy; you don’t make them because they are cheap; you don’t make them because they’re popular; you make them because they’re right.”
A lesson primarily aimed at morality? Agreed. But I think, whether intended or not, it can also be aptly applied to business decisions. Too often, a corporate decision to invest, acquire, expand, is based on what is easiest, cheapest, or most popular. It may be based on internal political maneuvering, or the efforts of external parties with self-serving influences. More often than not, the easy, cheap, and popular decisions cost more in the long run.
For more information on the life of Father Hesburgh, you can visit the page on the Notre Dame web site.