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Man Vs. Machine: The Brave New World of B2B Content Marketing

January 21, 2013 by Wendy Marx

There’s something ironic happening in the world of B2B PR. Sometimes it seems that just about everyone is hopping on the bandwagon of creating engaging, individualistic content. Other times, it’s as if there were tons of folks lining up to hand their content generation over to mass automation technology.

Here’s the latest point in favor of the techies, pulled from a post by Scott Redick in Forbes predicting the rise of automation:

“News writing will increasing become the domain of automated software programs…PR firms will hire technical experts to manipulate code on content farms, search algorithms and copywriting bots.”

The end result: public relations professionals will function as “truth engineers,” to use Redick’s terminology, spinning the truth to suit their client’s wishes.

Some cynics may believe that’s what PR professionals do now, albeit with words, instead of code. Yet there’s a major discrepancy between putting your best foot forward – something most B2B PR professionals strive for – and explicit deceit. This form of complete distortion has no place in any PR pro’s toolkit.

In the meantime, let’s return to technology and content.

Content can definitely be machine-manipulated to dupe search engines. In addition, content automation companies like Automated Insights excel at writing data-driven stories, though they reportedly have people touch up the work when necessary. Considering the caliber of some human-written (so old fashioned!) press releases, I’d imagine a machine could produce better work than some of those lengthy, terminology-intense mounds of jibberish.

With that being said, there’s much more to content marketing than simply writing articles. Content, in order to be distinguished among the deafening roar, should have a bit of idiosyncrasy–a smattering of whimsy or artistry. As Joe Pulizzi says,

“Epic content is all about stories that inform or entertain, that compel people to action and truly makes a difference in people’s lives. It positions the company as a trusted leader. It makes the buying process easier.”

Beyond riveting content, B2B content marketing must be structured around a strategy. If it isn’t, it’s simply copy, not marketing with goals and deliverables.

It’s great when technology serves our goals and makes processes more convenient or better. However, the “marketing” in content marketing–and in many cases the “content” aspect too– depends on the qualitative judgments of real people. A machine might be spectacular at processing data but it can’t make the subtle distinctions (not to mention witty rhetoric) that we can.

A classic Winston cigarette ad had a grammatically incorrect word, using “like” instead of “as.” It went: “Winston tastes good like a cigarette should.” A logic-driven machine would make the sentence grammatically correct and by doing this, lose the rhythm of the phrase.

By the way, I wrote this post on my own — entirely without the aid of a computer, a machine, or a droid from Star Wars.

I’d love to hear how you are using technology to enhance your content marketing. Please tell us about it in the comments!

Filed Under: b2b content marketing, Blog, content marketing | Leave a Comment

3 Crucial Steps For Content Marketing Success

December 6, 2012 by Wendy Marx

Everyone in marketing tries to do it. What most folks don’t realize, is that very few do it well.

What are we referring to? Content marketing, of course. Otherwise known as branded content, brand journalism, or business story-telling, among other monikers.

It’s apparent a phrase is popular when it spawns its own lexicon. Or when mega brands like Coca-Cola embrace it. The soft drink empire recently revamped its website in homage to content marketing.

You can tell “content marketing” has entered the list of marketing terms when you find any number of conferences devoted to the topic. Take the example of the all-day content-marketing event given by the Content Marketing Institute in cooperation with Target Marketing and Publishing Executive. The event, titled Content Marketing World NYC, brought in a plethora of content marketers (and those seeking to become content marketers). It was also chaired by two content marketing industry elites: Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose. The two co-authored one of the foremost books on the topic, along with other accomplishments.

You may be wondering to yourself, “OK, so what’s so great about content marketing?”

Advertising, it seems, has lost much of its effectiveness. We live in a world where the average person is bombarded by some 3,000 brand impressions a day. According to research firm Altimeter Group, advertising needs to function together with other media, including company–created content and user-generated content. Content marketing in its most fundamental definition, is content a brand owns or publishes without any media buys, according to Altimeter.

That of course is the baseline. In order to be truly effective, content marketing, as Pulizzi and Rose stressed at the Content Marketing World event, must tell a story that allows people to engage with a brand. Moreover, it can’t be a one-time wonder but should be a long-term commitment, or as Rose phrased it, “Content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint.”

In fact, a marathon is the perfect analogy. Besides being a time-consuming process,  it also requires some heavy lifting. It’s no surprise that a survey by Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs discovered that only roughly a third of over 1,400 B2B marketers surveyed said they believed their content marketing campaigns effective.

Here are 3 key elements from Robert Rose to increase the effectiveness of your content marketing:

 

  • Tell a story. A story is a natural way to grab people’s attention. It draws you in and captures your emotions as well as your mind. What’s more interesting – a list of facts or a story that weaves the same elements into an engaging narrative?
  • Implement a strategy. Like any effective program, content marketing must be supported by a solid strategy. A company should understand its audience, business needs and what will appeal to its various market segments. According to Rose, the reason why most content marketing doesn’t succeed is that many companies dive right in without a strategy. Once you have a strategy in place you need a replicable process to produce your content.
  • Use channels to tell your story. No longer can you tell your story exclusively on your website. As Rebecca Lieb and Jeremiah Owyang observe in the Altimeter report on The Converged Media Imperative: “Brands are challenged to intercept this elusive customer and cut through the media clutter, regardless of whatever channel or medium consumers are engaged with.”

 

What are you doing to accelerate your Content Marketing? I look forward to hearing from you.

Filed Under: b2b content marketing, b2b marketing, B2B PR, B2B Public Relations, Blog, content marketing, Insights | Leave a Comment