Welcome to the Content Marketing Jungle. . . What Path will you Take in 2014?

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71% of marketers will increase their investment in content marketing in 2014. However, less than 25% of these companies will achieve leadership status even with this increased investment.  What path will the best-in-class marketing organizations take for content marketing success? What are the ingredients for a successful content marketing strategy? What should the content marketing mix be for created vs. curated vs. syndicated content?

Curata recently completed its third annual content marketing study with 500+ marketers to get answers to these questions and provide guidance to marketers throughout 2014. This post will provide the highlights from this study. (Click here to view the full report.)

Which Animal Spirit Best Represents Your Organization?

There are many types of animals in the jungle, and some are simply better suited for survival than others. As you think about your own organization and its ability to thrive in the content marketing jungle, do you think of yourself as:

  • The Fox:  Cunning, strategic, quick-thinking, adaptable, clever and passionate; with an ability to use its resources for survival. (Best-in-Class Marketer!)

  • The Elephant: Strong, stable, patient; yet slow to shift to changing situations.

  • The Wildebeest: Follows the pack, always afraid of being left behind.

  • T-Rex: Simply put, extinct, or on the way to being extinct.

With respect to content marketing, many organizations are in the wildebeest category. For example:

  • Investing in content marketing without a content leader or strategy in place:  Only 43% of companies have a content marketing leader.

  • Creating as much content as possible today regardless of quality, leverage or ROI:  ”measuring the impact of content” is a low priority for marketers, and few marketers excel at marketing their own marketing.

  • Continuing to communicate to their audience in their own voice only, striving to be the sole source of content on a chosen topic:  Buyers want to be exposed to content from, in order of priority, their peers, other third parties and then vendors. As good as our content may be, buyers will continue to go elsewhere for knowledge if we continue to focus solely on our own created content. (Check out STOP Egocentric Marketing for more information on sharing information from other sources.)

How can you be More Like the Fox?

No, I’m not referring to the new hit song “The Fox” by Ylvis, but the foxes of the content marketing jungle deserve their fame, too!

You, like the fox, should be increasing your investment in content marketing in 2014. Be careful, however, not to fall into the same trap as the Wildebeest and rush too quickly into increasing spend before you know where to allocate it. Money doesn’t solve everything, and neither does the quantity of content you’re producing. According to B2B Content Marketing 2014: Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends North America, a study by CMI and Marketingprofs, 73% of content marketers in the B2B industry are producing more content than they did a year ago. This is a great sign for the world of content marketing, but organizations must be careful about overwhelming their audience. Don’t overload your audience with crap, as many marketers continue to do.

Your audience is not only receiving content from you, but they’re presented with thousands of articles from other publishers in your industry. Focus on a way to differentiate yourself and break through the noise instead of making quantity your first priority. This is what the fox is doing.

How can you be a content marketing fox? Before increasing content spend, have a plan in place. Budget your increased resources towards hiring a content marketing lead, developing a content team, creating a solid content marketing strategy or implementing new content marketing specific software – before you allocate too much into creating more content.

Innovating new content ideas through customer insights and feedback, crowd-sourcing (internally and externally) and curating from third party sources are other best-in-class content marketing tactics that the fox is using to provide value for their audience.

What content development process does the fox practice? Repurposing content using the content marketing pyramid. Best-in-class marketers like the fox repurpose their great content to get the most mileage out of it and reach a wider audience. Turn an eBook into a webinar – a webinar into a series of blog posts and infographics – and support it all with curated content from various thought leaders.

What types of technology does the fox use?

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Best-in-class marketers, 56% surveyed, are using content marketing specific software to help them create, organize, annotate and share content. Technology is a huge influencer for content marketing as it can help you work smarter and stay ahead of the competition. Editorial calendars are a great tool for content marketers to keep track of the content development process, especially in large companies. Platforms that allow you to create, organize and share as an all-in-one process can be a life saver when it comes to saving time and resources. For a full list of content marketing specific software and tools, check out Pawan Deshpande’s Content Marketing Tools: The Ultimate List.

Who should you follow along the best-in-class content marketing path? We recommend checking out what these content leaders are up to:

Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs @MarketingProfs

Joe Pulizzi, Founder at Content Marketing Institute @JoePulizzi

Jim Roberts, Chief Content Officer at Mashable @nycjim

David Lang, Chief Content Officer at Mindshare  @mindshare

Todd Wheatland, VP Marketing & Thought Leadership at Kelly Services @ToddWheatland

Amanda Maksymiw, Content Marketing Manager at Lattice Engines @amandamaks

Brian Clark, Founder at Copyblogger @brianclark

Kevin Cain, Director of Content Strategy at OpenView Venture Partners @kevinrcain

Lee Odden, CEO at TopRank Online Marketing @leeodden

Michael Brenner, VP of Marketing and Content Strategy at SAP @BrennerMichael

Nancy Pardo, Managing Editor, Interactive Marketing at PTC @PTCPardo

Pam Didner, Global Marketing Strategist at Intel @PamDidner

Robert Rose, Chief Strategist at CMI @robert_rose

Scott Abel, Content Management Strategist at The Content Wrangler @scottabel

Buddy Scalera SVP Multichannel Content Strategy at Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide @MarketingBuddy

Dayna Rothman, Content Marketing Manager at Marketo @dayroth

Pawan Deshpande, CEO at Curata @TweetsfromPawan

Russell Sparkman, Content Strategist at FusionSpark Media @fusionspark

Lauren Moler, Content Strategist at National Instruments @merrymoler

Pamela Muldoon, Host of Content Marketing 360 Radio Show @pamelamuldoon

Rob Yoegel, Content Marketing Director at Monetate @RobYoegel

David Germano, Content Strategist at Empower MediaMarketing @David_Germano

Heidi Cohen, Chief Content Officer at Heidi Cohen’s Actionable Marketing Guide @heidicohen

Kipp Bodnar,  Director of Marketing Hubspot @kippbodnar

Scott Brinker,  Founder & CTO ion interactive, inc. @chiefmartec

Mayur Gupta, Global Head of Marketing and Technology at Kimberly Clark @inspiremartech

Hilary Marsh, Chief Strategist at Content Company @hilarymarsh

Chris Moody, Director, Product Marketing at Oracle @cnmoody

Kyle Lacy, Global Content Marketing & Research at ExactTarget @kyleplacy

Marcus Nelson, CEO at Addvocate @marcusnelson

Darren Herman, VP Content Services at Mozilla @dherman76

Jeannine Rossignol,  VP Marketing Services for US Client Operation at Xerox @j9rossignol

John Dukakis, SVP Director of Content at Hill Holliday @jDukakis

The Fox is not Afraid to Use All Resources at its Disposal for Survival

The study found that two challenges continue to interrupt the success of many content marketers:  1) The ability to consistently develop great content in an environment with limited resources, be it time, money or people; and 2) Giving readers a variety of diverse, unbiased perspectives on your topic to create more value, increase interaction and establish credibility.

Best-in-class marketers are tackling these challenges by changing up their marketing mix. The results of the survey determined that enlightened marketers, the fox, strive to create 65% of their content, curate 25% and syndicate 10%. Curating this portion of content allows content marketers to consistently publish great, relevant content in a fraction of the time without breaking their developers’ backs. The inclusion of more externally sourced content alongside their created strategy allows marketers to provide their audience with diverse content from a variety of relevant sources, deepening the value of thought leadership and perspectives provided. The fox knows how to work smarter than the rest of the jungle.

Created Content Tips

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The most important thing to remember is that content marketing is not a part-time job. Content requires a dedicated staff. Your in-house content marketing team should have full responsibility for content creation in order to keep your editorial process organized. Crowd-sourcing remains a great way to develop new content ideas from other members of your organization. Best-in-class marketers understand the benefit of creating the majority of content in-house, by content developers who are familiar with your writing style, topic and brand messaging. However, outsourcing to knowledgeable staff, when necessary, is a good way to get up to speed on content creation.

Curated Content Tips

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The three most popular channels content marketers are sharing curated content on are social media, blogs and newsletters. However, a topic dedicated micro-site is an excellent resource to provide your audience with.With content management platforms that have a one-click to multiple channels feature, it’s getting much easier for marketers to publish curated content for a wider audience. Here are some examples.

Rue La La uses Curata to curate content for their blog. They’re able to share relevant industry content and add their own insights to it. Note the attribution to the original article.

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Verne Global uses Curata to curate content for their dedicated microsite, Green Data Center News. They’re able to populate this microsite with fresh content daily, making them a go-to source for readers,  with curation.

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What are the Best of the Fox Litter Doing?

The wildebeest pack and even many of the foxes are underperforming in the areas of content measurement and promotion. Many marketers list limited staff, limited budget, consistent content development and finding reliable sources as their top challenges and  see the areas of measurement and promotion as a low priority, while it should be a top one.

Limited staff, budget and content, as well as source discovery, are problems easily solved with the implementation of a strong marketing strategy and a curation tool. Measurement of content should be a top priority for marketers list because it provides insight into which pieces of content are effective and which ones aren’t working. The promotion of existing content allows marketers to get the most mileage out of great content that took a lot of time to create. Always be sure to market your marketing.

Download the full 2014 Content Marketing Tactics Planner to find out how you can become a content marketing fox and stay ahead of the pack.

michael@curata.com'

Michael is the CMO of Curata. He is responsible for Curata's marketing strategy and all related activities. Michael has over 25 years of marketing and sales experience, having successfully launched and sustained three start-up ventures as well as having driven innovative customer creation strategies for large technology organizations. (e.g., IDC, Kenan Systems, Prospero (mZinga) and Millipore). Michael received his MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management, as well as a BS in Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and an MS in Engineering from Northeastern University.