Why Content Marketing is NOT a Campaign

If you are a content marketer you must be familiar with the following statement:

“Content Marketing is a long-time commitment, not a campaign”

The quote comes from Joe Pulizzi and is one of my favourite content marketing quotes, together with “Content doesn’t promote itself”, “Not more content, but more relevant content” (both from Jason Miller, LinkedIn). All easy to remember. Useful, when I need to express a concept in a few words, during my public speeches or in conversations with my peers in Schneider Electric.

Back to the opening quote, here is what Joe says: Content marketing is all about sharing information that is considered useful to customers and prospective customers via articles, blogs, videos, and other media. It’s not a focus on creating salesy or “buy now” messages. Content Marketing is an approach, a methodology, a discipline, rather than a Campaign. It’s a long-term play when building a brand relationship with customers and prospects. Becoming an expert and building an audience doesn’t happen overnight. My experience of the last years reflects the long-term commitment to build a working revenue stream with the content marketing approach.

And its not just a philosophical difference.

Gone are the days when marketers could engage customers with one-time blasts. Today, consumers expect constant communication and regular access to content that inspires them, engage them, and – ultimately – inspires a purchase. To remain competitive, modern marketers are moving away from campaign-centric marketing to an “always on” strategy that requires them to produce content not just at specific moments of the planning year, but in a way that mimics media that habitually publish. Top “always on” brands are building newsrooms that match the speed, agility, and data-driven approach of everyone from BuzzFeed to The New York Times.

In the past, you’d create a campaign for a set amount of time and try to hit some isolated goals for that campaign. Now, the cadence for publishing is much more fluid. There’s always someone posting, tweeting, snapping. Customers are always on. They are searching for software solutions at 1 a.m, ordering books online over lunch at the office, and looking for locations were to spend next holidays, in the middle of the night. This situation represents the biggest change in B2B marketing, since ever.

Simplifying: a Marketing Campaign has a beginning and an end; in some cases is a one-time blast. Content Marketing is ALWAYS-ON.

This change has to be reflected on marketing organisations. Most marketing organisations today are (still) structured to deliver marketing communications campaigns. After all, that is how they have been working for decades. So, there might be new titles, new roles, new org charts and new KPIs, but most of them are still doing the same old things. More often than not, there is a budget, a marketing objective, a campaign, a measurement and then there is next year. Nothing wrong with this, except that the customer’s environment and thus, the marketing environment has changed much today.

The campaign approach isn’t obsolete; it’s just different. Today’s consumers expect a mix of content: both constant content from social streams and big rock marketing collateral like e-books that focus on major issues. How can you be prepared for these always on customers? Always on customers need always on content. Content that is present at the right place and can be accessed easily at the right time from the right person.

Content marketing is not advertising too. The strategy, tactics, and even the goals of content marketing are different. Yet so many companies still treat digital content as an ad campaign – which is detrimental not only to their respective brands, but to the entire content marketing arena as well.

Content marketing is not designed to convert leads immediately. The goal is long-term, continuous engagement. In fact, many of our leads have been in our pipeline for quite a while. And that’s fine by us. The more time our leads spend interacting with our content, the more educated they become. In the meantime, they begin to see us as a credible resource. That keeps us top of mind. Eventually, an educated lead will see something relevant that triggers a response. We’ve already built the relationship, so the first call the lead makes will be to us. That’s why marketing automation and content marketing are perfectly complementary. But this is another story…

Content marketing may take longer to convert leads, but over time, it significantly increase response rate and drives down conversion costs. And, again, is not a one-time blast. Its always on nature makes it deeply different from classical campaigns.

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