Content: the past, present and future of marketing

‘Content marketing’ is under the spotlight. Blogs and tutorial videos are surging everywhere on the Internet. Some brands are doing it perfectly right: they are telling the right stories to attract and retain new and existing customers. The common belief that ‘Content marketing is a new concept’ is completely wrong. It has existed for ages. The difference is the impressive exposure posts can get today, with a little marketing effort. In this article, content marketing will take us back in time to tell us its story.

The art of content marketing

Content marketing is an art. The art of educating customers, without selling. The brand accompanies the customer in a continuous way, by delivering information, educating them and making them more intelligent. Like every strategy, content marketing has a purpose: enriching customer behaviour in a certain direction, towards a goal. In other words, content marketing is based on a constant delivery of information to customers. In return, the brand wins loyalty and sales.

Accompanying customers - inspired by www.hubspot.com
Accompanying customers – inspired by www.hubspot.com

We live in a highly visual world: a post that includes a picture, a graph, an infographic gets much more exposure than an ‘empty’ post. Consumer are more attracted to visual content than text, and thus interact more with it. So when creating a worthy content, enhancing it with visual element is a golden rule.

A good content must be relevant. The brand should understand what its target audience finds interesting, appropriate and useful. By doing so, it can be referenced by influencers, and gain a multiplied exposure!

Content marketing is not new

As promised, this article will take us back in time.

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John Deere – The content marketer

Some believed John Deere to be the original content marketer. In 1985, he started publishing ‘The Furrow’. This magazine was an educational resource for his customers. In it, one could learn how to become a more fruitful farmer. Back in the 19th century, publishing magazines was the only way to transfer content to consumers. The Furrow had 1.5 million copies in circulation in 40 countries.

Another name we have all heard: Michelin. A few years after the conception of the Furrow, in 1900, the Michelin guide was created. This guide helped drivers maintain their cars and find travel accommodation. In addition to offering advice and content to consumers, this guide helped the tire manufacturer drive sales, by encouraging consumers to drive and wear out their tires.

Content marketing is so powerful it not only drives sales, but also saves companies. Jell-O would not be where it is today without content marketing. In 1904, the plant was on the verge of being sold, before one last strategy was attempted: the distribution of free Jell-O recipe books. This initiative lasted 11 hours and was very effective. By 1906, Jell-O sales were boosted to $1 million.

If we travel back to 2010, we observe that 80% of brands use content marketing and 25% of their budget is spent on it.

All in all, content marketing has always existed, and has always had a huge impact on a company or a brand’s performance. It has increased in importance, in power and in exposure.

 

 

 

Improving One’s Presentation Skills in Just 15 minutes

Today’s selection is…

This piece by Canadian entrepreneur and founder of Clarity Dan Martell, a marketplace for entrepreneurs who want to be in touch with investors. In this piece, Martell describes that you guys have been wasting your time working. You should have spent it “speaking” for this is the best job in the whole World ($5,000-$10,000 for a 20 minute presentation…) Well, what he didn’t tell you though is that in order to get there, you need to work a bit on your reputation, that a reputation isn’t built in a day, and eventually, that people will hire you in order to speak about a subject, only if they know that you are good at it. Or better, if someone they know tells them that you are good at it. As to the presentation itself, I don’t know about the 15 minutes. I believe he must be referring to the time it will take you to read his post and not the hard work you will have to put into building a good presentation (the quality of the presentation, by the way, depends very much on how you feel on a given day at a given moment and the kind of interaction – or lack thereof – you are getting with the people in the audience). Last but not least, that kind of prices is only valid for famous entrepreneurs and I’m not even sure it’s applicable to entrepreneurs outside the US. Unfortunately, you might have to go on working for a while. And don’t forget, speaking in front of an audience is a very tough job.

Dan Martell and Sir Richard Branson in a picture taken from Martell's homepage

How to Create a Great Presentation in Just 15 Minutes | @DanMartell

Did you know that the highest paid profession in America is professional speaking? Speakers can earn between $5,000 and $10,000 for a 20 minute keynote presentation. It’s the reason why great entrepreneurs know how to get up and share their message.  They indirectly get “paid” by moving employees, partners and communities to engage with their business in a way that goes far beyond the financial upside. Some of the best, like Mark Zuckerberg (Founder/CEO of Facebook), go even further and learn other languages, so they can share in a more authentic way. If you can master – or at least be mediocre – at speaking, it will open up the world to you. I’ve been paid to fly around the world sharing stories of lessons learned with amazing entrepreneurial communities.

via How to Create a Great Presentation in Just 15 Minutes | @DanMartell

Corporate Blogging is Dead, Long live Content Marketing! – 2013 survey results

book-new-largeI am not certain that Google will maintain Google alerts for very much longer. It seems, to put it in Forbes’s words, that it is broken. There is another cool innovation from the olden times which is still working though, I mean Google web trends. I still find it very interesting to see how things evolved through the use, or disuse, of certain keywords in the Google search engine. Lately, I went back to Google in order to check what was happening to corporate blogs. The only thing I was able to find out, was a 2005 report on corporate blogging. Does that mean that corporate blogging is over? Not at all! It is now part of a much broader subject, named content marketing. In essence, content marketing is bit different from just corporate blogging and it is a much better term. The replies of the interest for content marketing over the past few months is showing that something is happening in the web world again. Maybe it is a sign that companies are now more interested in what they get from the content which they produce rather than just spend time producing it. Let us review the 2013 content marketing survey report which gives us some interesting insight into the use of content marketing in 2013 (courtesy http://www.imninc.com/).

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Interest for corporate blogs has clearly shifted from blogs to content

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Key Survey Findings by IMN

  • Content marketing was a medium or high priority for 90%
    of respondents …”  however, one may point out  that comparisons with the 2012 survey my IMN (the first in the series) is showing that the realisation that content marketing is important is fairly recent, even in the US,
  • “31% of respondents have had a content strategy in place for more than a
    year, with 18% stating they put one in place within the last year and 33%
    working on implementing a strategy” … as stated above, all these content marketing programs are still fairly recent and there is still room for improvement,
  • “67% of respondents use a newsletter to distribute content to their
    customers and prospects” …  this is namely true with regard to newsletters for which a great number of users are sending  them once a year therefore showing little or no understanding of how the medium is used,
  • “78% of respondents curate content; 48% having run into permissions /
    attribution issues during the process” … But 15% of respondents are worried that they could use copyrighted content on their own resources,
  • 44% of respondents cited lead generation as the most important goal of
    content marketing programs; an increase from 16% last year.

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Awareness is widespread now. Content marketers are no longer regarded as zombies… well… I have a few recent counter examples but they are not American.

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Increasing leads is clearly what makes corporations tick. Yet, my personal experience in that area shows that few are able to go beyond buzz words and stick to their guns. Lead generation is a difficult trade, it requires a lot of fine tuning, and stamina. A trial and error mentality must be adopted; typically something that large companies have trouble coping with … long term thinking!

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Blogs are still here in that picture but they are not alone and part of an ecosystem. This makes perfect sense. An overarching strategy for marketing content must be adopted vs. piecemeal technical approaches which lead nowhere. Yet, if your blog is lousy, you are bound to go nowhere at all. The fundamentals must be remembered.

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Success is shifting away from readership to leads. Well… in the States maybe, in Europe, we still have a long way to go!

Download the 2005 blogger survey

New Innovation Blog Launched

news-largeA few years ago, I used to be a regular contributor to bnet in the UK but the site pulled out of the European market in 2010. Fortunately, a new project has just been launched and I’m very happy to embark on it. It is named innovation generation and it is sponsored by our peers from Alcatel.You can find my first piece on that blog under the following title: Governments Ease Into Cyberspace. Below is the announcement for the new website; stay tuned for more info …

We are living in a truly connected world. That’s something most people might take for granted when they make a phone call or watch TV, but when you consider how a wireless network brings books to your e-reader, an Ethernet network keeps your savings account secure, and a cloud holds most of your online identity, it becomes a pretty powerful proposition.

It is the services that run on these networks that are the lifeblood of society, and the potential for innovation here is limited only by our own creativity.

Enter Innovation Generation. It’s a generation that’s not confined to baby boomers, Gen Xers, or smartphone-toting Millennials, but rather encompasses everyone living in today’s globally connected society. Our goal here is to explore the potential for personalized, interesting, and, of course, innovative new services that can increase the quality of life and work for end users while also increasing the value of the service provider in the process.

How are service providers delivering these new services to businesses and consumers? How can they get more from their infrastructures than they already do? What are the opportunities for business model innovation? How can service providers improve the customer experience?

These are just a few of the questions we’ll strive to answer on Innovation Generation. If you’re a global communications service provider or enterprise IT leader, Innovation Generation is your guide to navigating the challenges and opportunities in creating innovative business opportunities for your company and your customers. Here, we explore innovation at all levels of today’s connected businesses, from software to services to groundbreaking business models – with an eye on what’s practical, what’s clouded by hype, and what’s going to help the bottom line.

These are services that are transforming industries like utilities, transportation, the public sector, healthcare, oil and gas, manufacturing, defense, railways, and even the government. And service providers are at the heart of it.

via Innovation Generation – Named Documents – About Us

social media API war goes on unabated (reblogged from Gigaom)

eye-large_thumb.gifHere is an illustration for today’s talk at the French Association of Marketing on the future of social media and a sequel to our discussions with Dalton Caldwell in San Francisco last September.

What the Instagram fight says about Twitter as a media platform — Tech News and Analysis

Instagram says it is removing the ability for Twitter to embed photos because it wants users to go to its own website instead of Twitter’s to see that content. Other media companies should probably also be asking themselves similar questions about their relationship with Twitter.

Remember when Twitter was just a free and open conduit for whatever content its users wanted to distribute? Those days are long gone now, replaced by Twitter’s desire to control and monetize as much of its platform as possible, and as much of the content that flows through it. The latest skirmish in this ongoing battle came on Wednesday, when Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom confirmed that the service has removed support for Twitter’s “expanded tweets” feature, and therefore photos won’t be showing up in Twitter any more. While Instagram’s relationship with Twitter is complicated, its reasons for doing this should make other media companies stop and think about how they use (or are being used by) Twitter as well.

As noted by Nick Bilton in a New York Times piece and by my colleague Erica Ogg — and confirmed by a post at the official Twitter blog — what Instagram has done is to remove support for the expanded view of tweets that shows up on the Twitter website and in its official apps. These tweets have a special pane that displays excerpts from blog posts and news stories published by certain partners, or photos and videos from certain external services. Twitter originally launched this as something called “expanded tweets” but it has since become a much more ambitious platform called “Twitter Cards.”

via What the Instagram fight says about Twitter as a media platform — Tech News and Analysis.