As I explained in my last column, I do quite a bit of reading to stay up-do-date with the content and social media marketing fields. There is so much great content about content marketing, and I often link to articles and cite experts.
Usually, I just add a few words to relate the article to the topic du jour. It occurred to me that readers might appreciate more of a deep dive into some of the important works in the field. So I thought that I would include a rundown of the top pieces of content that I have found to be extremely helpful, and takeaways for each. The works mentioned below cover a variety of areas, are in diverse formats, and most if not all function as content marketing in their own right. They are all great resources.
Winning the Zero Moment of Truth
One that has been getting lots of attention – and is a great piece of content marketing too – is Google’s Winning the Zero Moment of Truth, a free, downloadable e-book.
The phrase “moment of truth” is a familiar one in marketing and customer service circles. It refers to the experiences that we have with products, companies and brands at different stages: pre-purchase, during the sale and beyond.
Here, Google refers to a new moment of truth – the Zero, or ZMOT. As the eBook says:
ZMOT is that moment when you grab your laptop, mobile phone or some other wired device and start learning about a product or service… you’re thinking about trying or buying.
The concept is important because it says something about how the purchasing process is changing, becoming more information and consumer-driven, ground that was also covered by the article The Death of the Purchase Funnel, in Media Post. This in turn points to the need to bring Web, social media and content strategies in line.
It is a manifesto, 75 pages that explain the trend, provides supporting data and practical tips in terms of how to identify the ZMOTs for your area.
You have to adjust your content for all three traditional parts of the conversation: paid, owned and earned. And… a fourth: shared.
Paid is the advertising and media you drive and pay for yourself… Owned is the assets your company controls that you can use to promote and reinforce your brand… Earned takes us back to the ratings and reviews and social media …
Shared is areas you may not control directly but where your brand can be featured and promoted….
This is where ZMOT can help you really make an impact… Are you paying attention to how customers pass your message among themselves? Are you creating engaging and sharable content yourself?
Content Marketing Playbook
Another great work is the Content Marketing Playbook, by Junta 42 (now Content Marketing Institute, or CMI). It is an exhaustive list of the many forms of content marketing (the subheading is “42 Ways to Connect with Customers”). The usual suspects are there, sure: it mentions white papers, case studies, blogs, Webinars, and newsletters.
But what about Screencasts? Branded Content tool, anyone? The guide covers hard copy forms, like books and custom print magazines, online tools like widgets, and some that you might not even think of as content marketing – such as mobile apps.
It is nothing short of remarkable, the variety of tools we have at our disposal today. It can be a bit daunting too, as some may be unfamiliar, take time to master, and be more elaborate and expensive to produce. But don’t fret the – guide starts with the inspirational words:
You’ll find a smorgasbord of content options: long and short, textual and visual, simple and sophisticated. The idea is not to present a comprehensive review; content marketing is too big and evolving too quickly for a “definitive” summary.
The goal, rather, is to open our minds to the possibilities. To explore, ponder, imagine and daydream. Then, once inspired, to take action… the key take-away from The Content Marketing Playbook: perfection isn’t necessary. Don’t delay participation in anticipation of a future day when you’ll be able to get everything “right.” Instead, dive in now. You have 42 excellent choices in front of you.
It helps by explaining what each is, where it makes sense to use them and their ins and outs. It also cites examples and includes links to additional resources.
The Playbook is several years old, so it does not get into the new forms of content display and storytelling made possible by tablets, content curation and Web-based tools like Storify. Still, it is an indispensable guide; perhaps the folks at CMI will provide an updated version (hint hint).
Grande Guide to B2B Content Marketing
Another piece of great content about content marketing that is content marketing too (boy this is getting redundant, repetitive and self referential) is Eloqua’s Grande Guide to B2B Content Marketing. The nice folks at marketing automation vendor Eloqua published it, and why not since their software is relevant to the topic (it is co-authored by CMI’s Joe Pulizzi)?
As the name implies, this Slideshare guide has a B2B bent, and is a nice primer, covering everything from definitions, examples, best practices to measurement, and lets you know what to expect from various types of content marketing, in 15 slides.
Businesses that succeed in developing timely, relevant, non-promotional content reach potential buyers both directly and through the most persuasive channel of all: word of mouth. Exceptional content, like remarkable products, induces conversations and incites sharing… researchers determined that word of mouth to be the single most influential factor in driving purchases (Experian Simmons), underscoring the need to create content that spurs conversation
Content marketing doesn’t end at “awareness” or “buzz.” Companies that develop compelling content through all stages of the buying cycle are more effective at nurturing leads, acquiring customers and reducing churn. Although content marketing remains a cottage industry, [it] is maturing and becoming more interesting. Thought leaders like Seth Godin have concluded that content marketing is “all the marketing that’s left.”
The Grande Guide also includes suggestions for how to overcome common obstacles, and lists events and additional resources at the end.
Beginner’s Guide to Content Marketing
The KISSmetrics Beginner’s Guide to Content Marketing is a good cheat sheet as it is on the shorter side, but still has some very useful tips for the novice, and examples for both B2B and B2C.
One case study is Copyblogger; here is an excerpt from the article:
Copyblogger is considered the premier example of successful content marketing. They provide daily, world-class internet marketing tips for customers via their blog. Instead of grabbing customers’ attention with ads, they create blog content that is valuable to their audience, in exchange for attention and the opportunity to market products at opportune times.
Favorite excerpt: Ways to get more out of your content marketing effort (abbreviated below, please visit the article to get all of the details):
- Provide content that your customers’ want: A lot of people make the mistake of writing their blog about their business. That’s a problem because customers don’t care about you, they care about themselves.
- Write cornerstone content: Cornerstone content is content that can be categorized and archived in a way that’s easy for customers to find. It’s also content that provides incredible value to customers over a long period of time.
- Use other sites to find out what kind of content people want: Sometimes it’s hard to know what people want to read about. One way to find this out is to visit sites within your industry…Do some research to find out what kind of post are popular in your industry and write that type of content.
Coca Cola’s Content 2020
The above articles all serve as content marketing for companies that in some ways touch the field. But why would a consumer product company invest so heavily in content marketing, or produce content about the same for marketers?
You can find out by reading Jeff Bullas’ blog, which explains Coca Cola’s Content 2020 initiative (something that I first learned about at the Post-Advertising Summit earlier this year; here’s my wrap, which includes links for great resources). This excerpt is from Jeff Bullas:
Recently [Coca Cola realized] that their marketing strategy… needed to evolve… they are moving from “Creative Excellence” to “Content Excellence”… Content for Coca Cola is now the “Matter” and “Substance” of “Brand Engagement.” So what can we learn from Coca Cola’s new marketing strategy?
Lesson 1: Create Liquid Content
Lesson 2: Ensure your Content is Linked
Lesson 3: Create Conversations
Lesson 4: Move onto Dynamic Story Telling
CMI also wrote about the initiative in their post Coca Cola Bets the Farm on Content Marketing. It includes two embedded videos from YouTube, produced by Coca Cola, which lay out their strategy, and these words of description:
In the beginning, the claim is made that Coca-Cola must create the world’s most compelling content. Toward the end, the comment is made that Coca-Cola can no longer rely on being 30-Second-TV-Centric.
The videos are so good, that they are an appropriate conclusion to this post that you should watch below:
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There are so many great content marketing resources that it is hard to pick out the very best; I am sure that I must have missed some – which ones do you like?