Marketers need to understand relevant content and recognisable experiences if they are to succeed. That’s according to Robert Rose, chief strategy officer at the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), who has more than 20 years of marketing experience.
In the run-up to Adobe’s Digital Marketing Symposium, at which he will be speaking, Rose shared a few insights into current marketing trends and how marketers need to differentiate their messages. (The event will take place in Sydney, on July 28, and Singapore, on July 30.)
CMO.com: Tell me a little bit about your journey in creating “storytellers” out of marketers and why it’s so important.
Rose: From the early days of the Internet and digital, we’ve been focused on how to take the classic marketing approaches of the four Ps–product, place, price, and promotion–and apply it to a fundamentally new way of working. The Internet truly changed everything. Up until that time, the new technologies of content–radio and television–were all one-way broadcast mediums.
The Internet democratised content. Over 20 years, we’ve seen consumers adapt to this new world in innovative and amazing ways. But we, as marketers, simply haven’t. The opportunity for content to do that is huge, of course. But it means that marketers must fundamentally transform the lens through which they look at the creation of content.
CMO.com: Where does content marketing fit in to an overall marketing strategy?
Rose: There is still a ton of confusion over what content marketing really is. The conflation of native advertising, branded content, inbound marketing, and content marketing is still just so much noise in the CMO’s office right now. So the best practices tend to be outlier examples that are mentioned at conferences but are hard to replicate because they simply look so different than where most businesses are in their maturity level.
In the future, not every company will have a content-driven strategy. But every successful company will.
CMO.com: How does this region compare with other global markets, especially with respect to content marketing?
Rose: Well, it’s often said that Asia-Pacific is two years behind the United States in terms of its approach to content marketing. The Asia-Pacific region is evolving much more quickly than the U.S. did and is a fast follower. This isn’t terribly different than other evolutionary business practices–where, as a fast follower, Asia-Pacific tends to outpace the rest of the world and catch up quickly.
The region is also avoiding many of the ratholes that the U.S. market found itself in in the 2010-12 era–when social and SEO were essentially the only players in town for content marketing.
Of course, there are big differences even within Asia-Pacific as it’s such a diverse region. So Australia’s maturity level, for example, is much different than, say, Singapore, and Singapore is different from Japan or Korea. And they are different from China. It’s a very uneven space right now.
CMO.com: Tell me more about experiential marketing and how it fits in with current approaches.
Rose: The subject of my talk, and of my recent book, is really that relationships with customers are more complicated than ever before. Data collection, our ability to reach them, and the asymmetry of power in the consumer’s ability to get information all mean that the relationship with consumers is more tenuous than ever. Coupled with this is the notion that marketers need to focus on delivering different kinds of value to the business and to customers.
Our ability to deliver valuable experiences to consumers will be the differentiating approach over the next decade. A great example, and one we’ll talk about at the Adobe Symposium, is what hotel and leisure company Starwood has achieved as they’ve begun to create more integrated content experiences into the buyer’s journey. I won’t spoil it, but their integration into mobile, desktop, and even the new Apple Watch is pretty extraordinary.
Ultimately, experiences will simply become marketing.
CMO.com: What is the main stumbling block faced by unique and forward-thinking marketers?
Rose: Culture. Plain and simple.
The challenge is most often an evolution from “this is the way it’s always been done” to “this is the way it could be done.”
The culture challenge is developing the road map to this evolution. Who should own this process? How will it be measured? What are the budgets? Who has the right skill set? How do we scale this across the enterprise? These are all big challenges for complex, global companies.
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