I was involved in quite a few great content marketing projects and I know a lot of even greater ones. But some of them have had a fatal flaw. They may be awesome, I mean, seriously complex and awesome projects, but they're just that - strategies.
Content marketing should be integrated with other marketing and business projects of an organization, not an isolated island. It shouldn't be about tool/mediums employed, but about producing, owning, and leveraging content.
Most importantly, it should be about education; teaching not only prospects/customers, but also everybody within the organization! That's the ultimate recipe for success!
Case # 1: A big financial institution hired a content marketing agency to help them set up a content marketing strategy. The institution has a really bad reputation in public. Its new strategy was innovative and should bring great results and a lot more positive image of their services in public. Honestly, it was a jaw-dropping project.
The project, however, was supported more or less by only a few senior managers, executed by a small department in the company, and it was kept alive by only one branch in one city. On the other hand, nothing (significantly) has changed within the company as a whole; it still operates like the project never existed. Only a handful of employees know/live it.
The corporate culture hasn't changed, the public image of the institution and their services keeps deteriorating. Moreover, customer service for the most part continues to suck!
So, there's this huge amount of money that goes into this otherwise tremendous project, bringing abysmal results. Not because the project itself is flawed, but because it didn't change anything within the organization.
"Content Marketing is owning, as opposed to renting media. It’s a marketing process to attract and retain customers by consistently creating and curating content in order to change or enhance a consumer behavior.” Joe Pulizzi, Content Marketing Institute
As Joe says, "In short, instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent. The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty."
I think we should update this definition (I'm not good at writing them). I'm not the first to think so, there are dozens of posts out there talking about how support for content marketing within the organization is crucial.
The above definition should be updated in a way that includes the following: content marketing goals should include changing/adapting the corporate culture and customer service. Everyone in the organization should be part of it, should live it, not just a few. What is the point in having a great, content rich website and/or blog and/or customer magazine and/or profiles on social media if your customer service continues to suck or be ignorant of your content marketing strategy?
Case #2: A telecommunications company produces a really good customer digital magazine. However, they haven't changed their customer service a bit! So, what have they achieved with the mag exactly, save it being great and spending a lot of money on it?
Case #3: A retail company produces a great customer print magazine. But they have no clue how to leverage it; like learning more about their customers... Their case tells me they don't know what their business goals are, or how to do business. They've recently changed their senior management and it seems like they don't understand why they should continue publishing the mag. Their website, though "renewed", is clinically dead. What a waste, right?
The examples above remind me of what I witness every week: "We want a blog!" "We are thinking of a magazine." "We want a Facebook page." "We want to redesign our magazine!"
It's all about tools/media, rather than content. My next question is: "Why?" "What do you plan to do with it?" After we talk, they start to think differently.
It's been said so many times, but it needs to be said so many more times: it's not about tools, rather it's about content and how you can leverage the content.
Content should become your asset! Internally and externally!
It may not happen overnight. As much as you need time to attract attention of your (prospects)/customers, the same applies to your employees/business partners.
My experience is that when I get invited by a company to help them build a content marketing strategy (usually I deal with small companies), I am listened to by their senior management, I get their almost unconditional support and we start working together. However, it takes time for the rest of the company to follow suit. Which is totally understandable. That's why I also advocate a step-by-step strategy, not all-at-once strategy.