This article is written by Matt Kinsman, ABM’s head of content.
Using a motto of “Content-Contact-Cash,” Rick Short, director of marketing communications at Indium Corp., has developed an aggressive content marketing strategy that turned Indium engineers into bloggers, video stars and influencers. The approach is very publisher-like: Indium develops its own editorial calendar and content, and manages its own audience database. The results? A 600% increase in sales leads and 10,000 new opt-in, self-qualified, sales leads each year.
“The digital world has allowed me to bypass the process [of working with media and agencies],” said Short, speaking at an event called Content Marketing 360 in B2B—From Soup to Nuts. Hosted by ABM’s Advertising & Marketing Services Council and the Institute for the Study of Business Markets, it brought together publishers, b2b brands and agencies.
“To get my money today, a magazine company has to do this better than us. I’d love someone to walk in and say, ‘We can do this cheaper, faster, better. And we will teach you new stuff at the same time.’”
Content marketing is hot; we see it everywhere. But how is it really any different from “custom content” or “branded content” strategies that have existed for years? The difference lies in what content marketing can accomplish, thanks to digital delivery and social media, customer understanding via audience data and modeling, and the fulfillment of lead generation.
The opportunity for publishers is huge—59% of brands expected to boost their content marketing budget in 2014, the largest lift for any marketing tactic other than digital advertising, according to Forrester Research. With their expertise in creating content and aggregating audience, publishers are natural partners for brands. At BIMS earlier this month, Penton CEO David Kieslestein said that marketing services are his company’s fastest growing business line.
However—as the Indium example points out—the danger of content marketing for publishers is brands keeping their dollars in-house. Here’s what Short thinks that they’re doing better in this manner:
1. What gets measured gets managed. For each content marketing effort, Indium establishes specific metrics in advance that are easy to report and implement, and are understood by its marketing team, which has access to metrics 24/7. Among the metrics Indium collects are how many contacts they gather, what type of information they request and what channels they explore (white papers, live-person chats, etc.).
2. Do-it-yourself solutions. Short developed the marketing tools himself, hires and manages the programmers, qualifies the leads, provides reporting and output, manages the CRM, and analyzes and upgrades. “The process from third parties was always complicated and expensive,” he said.
3. Comprehensive branding. IBM surveyed every corporate blog in the world and found that 80% had just five posts. Compare that to Indium, which did 163 blog posts over the past year and more than 1,000 social media posts across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Vine. Also generated by Indium’s in-house content marketing team: 88 presentations at 45 trade shows; 20 videos, 202 pieces of literature (including newsletters and white papers), 25 Internet landing pages and 128 paid ads.
Short assured publishers in attendance that he knows they have the capability to do this, but he has never been approached for a “thought-leader” conversation. “I know publishers say we can do this, and I don’t doubt that you can,” said Short. “But I don’t hear from you. I hear from your junior people. It’s always someone 16 layers below you who approaches me.”