What is Content Marketing?

Marketing Automation platform vendor Marketo puts it this way: “Content marketing is the practice of creating relevant and compelling content in a consistent fashion to a targeted buyer, focusing on all stages of the buying process, from brand awareness through to brand evangelism.” Marketo, Hubspot, Act-On—they are all freely sharing advice on content because it’s the fuel for their engines. However, without a defined subject matter, all their how-to directives can come across as well-packaged, empty dialogue.

Are you actually talking about this, or are we just... We're just speaking of it.  As an idea.

Q: Are you actually talking about this, or are we just…
A: We’re just speaking of it. As an idea.

It’s so much more interesting to be listening and participating in a lively marketplace, taking careful note of the content strategies and assets supporting the most active and lucrative digital conversations. That’s what I’m striving to do here, as I overlay the topics of Content Marketing and Intelligent Buildings.

Anyone whose enterprise technology marketing career predates Google knows that great content – that is, expertly timed and targeted storytelling delivered via the best medium for the message – is not a new objective. It’s always been the harvester’s tool—harvesters being inside sales, direct marketers, ad/PR agents, and other sales/marketing types not involved in direct sales. Harvesters metaphorically seed the total available market with information, then nurture the strongest prospects to full potential, or until they are valuable enough to hand off to field sales.

In Yesteryear, harvesters made scripted calls, printed on paper, and stuffed and mailed envelopes to names they gathered from phone books and purchased from B2B publishers’ direct mail list departments. Today’s difference is that all the conversations that once moved over telephone wires and the US Postal system are now digital. That’s a boon – nothing need be lost. Of course, sales pitches were also captured and spun into ‘content assets’ (brochures, whitepapers, ads) in the pre-digital age. That was an activity handled by the Marketing Communications department. ‘Content Marketing’ is this era’s “Marketing Communications” – injected with a new expectation that practitioners should be keyword, search engine, and social media savvy. More than that, a magnitude of additional content assets are now needed to support customers before and after a sale, and just about everyone on the solution vendor’s team is expected to be a content producer.

Importantly, Content Marketing is the competency that will allow enterprise solution vendors to adjust their business models to compete in today’s Cloud Computing era. The authors of Consumption Economics: the New Rule of Tech do a good job of explaining the new pressures. In short, tech companies must get better at listening and responding to customer information and product needs for the full cycle from pre-Sales to post-Sale support. This is certainly true in buildings markets — with the added degree of difficulty presented by the multiplicity of stakeholders involved in a building technology sale.

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