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The King and I: Demystifying Content Marketing in a World Where Content Reigns Supreme

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We’re all very familiar at this point with the old adage, “Content is king.” But what does a day in the life of royalty look like in today’s digital age?

It looks a lot different than a few years back – and companies continue to up the ante. According to a 2014 Curata survey, 76 percent of marketers are increasing their investment in content marketing; yet according to Altimeter, 70 percent of marketers lack a consistent content strategy.

Say what?

If content is king, then we need to give more leaders the keys to the kingdom.

Learn more about integrated marketing and PR, read: Defining Your Integrated Marketing & PR Strategy.

Because surely the content kingdom is a symbolic monarchy: Content can’t stand alone, reigning in all its glory, without the support of many other resources. If the ruling monarch is to be successful, it needs to rely upon different styles, platforms and approaches to promote its benevolent and relevant rule. It’s the court of the content kingdom, where advisors to the king can weigh in so that everyone can prosper.

Marketing and PR professionals know the value of content, that’s true. What has changed is 1) the volume of content necessary, 2) appetites for specific media types and written style, and 3) search optimization and content accessibility.

Source: used under CC license.

How can modern marketers keep content in good favor, serving on its throne?

  • Serve the people. Because content today must serve many functions – wearing lots of hats, including crown – it must be as versatile as it is representative of its subjects: the modern audience. To captivate audiences, then, we must know how to make content work for the people.

Content should be created to address a myriad of interests, consideration points, topics and tips, making it not only a compelling read, but a vendor-neutral perspective that is useful to the reader despite who is commissioning the work itself. More marketers need to remember this when developing content: You can and should add value, without always having to sell something. Building a brand’s reputation and demonstrating industry knowledge is an equally important endeavor – if not the most important one – when thinking long term about content strategy, engagement and how to leave a lasting impression.

  • Create an inner circle of advisors. A content strategy is imperative, if at the very least to serve as a reminder of the vast repository of options to repurpose. It’s also essential to have a tracker to be able to identify important themes, expose gaps in content by topic, audience segment and style so that additional variety can be incorporated, and to make informed adjustments as needed. Organization is the first step toward more meaningful content; a secretary to the king is an MVP in this realm.

Once organization has been met, creativity must abound. With increasing appetites for social media sharing, rich media is a key player to have in your court. From podcasts to video, let creativity fuel the ideas that come to life. Storytelling should be the central component of today’s content marketing strategy, a truth that should be revisited often as a “gut check” on modern content. You’ll need a joker, to infuse humor and wit into your content; you’ll need representatives of each segment so that you have informed opinions on their needs; and you’ll need a financial advisor to make sure that you’re wisely spending budgets for a thoughtful, overarching plan that incorporates multiple methods to advertise your content across platforms.

  • Meet and greet. In lieu of kissing babies, shaking hands and taking photo ops, the ruler of the content world must get itself out there – often, in many forms. To do this, you must be prepared to invest some funds: As algorithms change, even social media content as a rule should come equipped with a paid strategy. Regardless of whether impressions or clicks are your goal, serving your content to a target audience will make content prioritization more laser focused, meaning you’re using your talent smarter to accomplish objectives outright. Content for the sake of content isn’t sufficient – making decisions and putting $$ where your content is will ensure you’re making content worth sharing.

Content marketing platforms like ShareThrough and Outbrain help marketers do just that: get content out to the world, meeting audiences where they will be most receptive to the topics that matter most. Companies need to realize that the investment in developing content warrants the resources to get it into the right hands at the right time. Content marketing makes this possible, and can be tracked to show that appropriate metrics are met along the way.

Though content is king, it is not a dictator: It cannot rule without the input of a well-functioning team, supporting strategy and platforms for execution. Call it the democratization of the role of content, as companies see just how much is needed to make content into the powerhouse it can truly be.

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