Brand Activator/ Strategic Planning

Don’t Violate The First Law Of Content Marketing!


by Mike Azzara
Chief Content Strategist
Stein IAS (Americas)

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It’s like Copernicus, all over again.

I’m part of a virtual club of former journalists and publishers making new careers in content marketing. We don’t have meetings, but we do commiserate. Recently, I took an informal poll of my brother and sister content wizards asking what key content marketing concept was hardest to get clients to embrace. The near-unanimous response: organizing content around your customer’s objectives first, thus subordinating your marketing objectives to secondary status. 

Elliot Kass, vice president of content marketing at technology publisher UBM TechWeb, told me he calls this the “center of the universe” mindset. He told me too many marketers still can’t get their brands, products, and services out of the center of their thinking when it comes to content marketing. “They need to identify the top issues of concern for their prospects and show how their products and services fit in with those–and not the other way around,” Kass said.

This is the same old problem Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, began addressing five years ago with his “think like a publisher” mantra. It’s disappointing that in all of this time, this problem is still No. 1.

To me, “think like a publisher” means understanding the needs of your audience, inventing content to serve their needs, and, whenever necessary, advocating, crusading, or even fighting for their needs. And rights. I once wrote this post on the topic at Joe’s site. This advice is very pragmatic–providing high-value content that serves the needs of your audience builds your brand’s relevancy, trust, and credibility with that audience.

So this shouldn’t be so hard, people.

Of note, Kass has written an excellent white paper explaining this and other aspects of world-class content marketing. It’s called “Creating Content That Delivers Results,” and while some of it may seem rudimentary, I found it cool how he combines theory and practice in its execution.

Just as Copernicus’ heliocentric theory of the universe eventually gained acceptance, the customer-centric theory of content marketing will, ultimately, become widely understood and accepted. Of course, Copernicus’ followers were burnt at the stake during the 200 years or so required for that transition.

So I worry.

About Mike Azzara

The authors of the Brand Activator blog are from Stein IAS, BMA Global Agency of the Year.