You Are Now A Media Company (If you’re not – you should be!)

I love podcasts. In fact I’d say I’m something of a podcast junkie. Each time I get in the car I listen to one, be it on my commute to the office, or a business trip. I listen to them on plane rides. And when I go for my evening walks in the park. Podcasts are easily the most updated audio app on my phone, as I download several new episodes of my favorite ones. As I write this I have twenty-two different podcast channels lined up each with new content waiting for me to listen to on a variety of subjects such as history, motor sports, Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, movie reviews, creative writing, industry news, and Content Marketing.

My two favorite Content Marketing podcasts both come from my friends at the Content Marketing Institute; “Content Inc”. from Joe Pulizzi gives short (about 5 minutes) tips and ideas – just enough to spark some thought for the day; while “PNR: This Old Marketing” is a weekly hour long discussion between Joe and his CMI cohort, Robert Rose on the latest trends in Content Marketing. Both are highly recommended.

The fine folks at CMI also popped up on my Amazon Prime streaming feed at home with their just release documentary “The Story of Content.” The latest issue of their magazine CCO sits on my desk, and I follow CMI on Twitter each day. – In fact I’m something of a CMI brand advocate. They are one of the best models of how to build a business through content.

What makes CMI stand out is that while they are selling consulting, training, and events they don’t act like a traditional consulting house, instead they act like a media company. They use content to position themselves as industry thought leaders, and they tailor that content to the different channels they use to engage with their audience. (Note I said audience, not customers.)

For many years I’ve being delivering the message that all companies should think and act like publishers. Well that is no longer enough – You need to act like a media company.

960_640_iphone

It isn’t enough to continue to just produce print-based collateral such as brochures and press releases and try and slice it and dice it to fit onto different digital platforms.

So how do you approach being a media company?

Take a look at this business plan by arguably the most successful media company on the planet.

activity-system-map-walt-disney

This was Disney in 1957 – almost 60 years ago – yet every channel was designed to use content to build the business.

Think about the following and apply it to your business.

  1. What’s the core activity that you want to build an audience for?
  2. What channels can drive that engagement?
  3. What value can each channel add?
  4. Who is the audience for that channel?
  5. What content type works best on that channel?
  6. How can we create the right content for that channel with connections that engages the audience enough to be drawn back to the core activity?
  7. How do we connect that content to present an overall brand experience and consistent story no matter which channel the audience engages with first?

What Exactly is “Authentic”?

Authentic marketing – Isn’t that an oxymoron? Let’s face it historically the world of marketing has not been one where you would immediately relate truth with message. But times they are a changing, and today’s audience is quick to point out when we stretch the truth too far. (A topic I wrote about back in June 2009). But what about being authentic? – What does it mean to say that your content marketing efforts should reflect the authentic voice of your brand.

The dictionary definition of the word “authentic” according to Meriam-Webster is that it represents something that is “real or genuine: not copied or false.”

The chances are that your brand has an underlying brand promise or set of values that define you as a business. It’s what you are in business to do. To be “authentic” your content should reflect and communicate those values. Your messaging doesn’t have to parrot your brand promise verbatim, but the words, tone, images, colors, and the value of what you deliver should clearly support what the brand means to your customers.

Consider the kings of Content Marketing – Red Bull. They are all about energy. Their brand promise is that they “ will increase (their customer’s) performance, concentration, reaction speed, vigilance, and even well-being.”

red-bull-space-jump

It’s arguable whether a can of caffine achieves those result in a healthy way, but it’s clear that their whole marketing effort from the “Red Bull gives you wings” tagline to their global sports and events sponsorship programs where people excel at extreme physical activities are an authentic reflection of the brand’s values and promise.

“Are We There Yet?” – Developing a Content Marketing Maturity Model

“It’s just around the corner.” – When I was a youngster travelling the highways and byways of the British road system in the back of my parents’ car that was my father’s stock answer to the toddler’s favorite lament of “Are we there yet?” – The thing was he never specified exactly which corner he was talking about. It kept me quiet for a while until I realized that we had been around several more corners since I last asked and we still hadn’t arrived at our destination. It didn’t take me long to learn that as much as I loved travelling as a kid, and still do, that not having context for where we were on those journeys drove me crazy. I still eschew the inflight movie choices on the seat back screens when flying long distances in favor of the moving map display. I like to know where I am.

The same could be said of developing a Content Marketing Strategy, I like to know where I am on the journey.

The obvious answer for knowing where you are is to have a map; something that helps you connect the start and end points.

When you are working on the tactical implementations of content creation, management, and distribution those maps are your editorial calendars, and project plans – But what about at a higher level? How do you know where you are in the development and execution of your overall strategy? Do you have something that will guide you and your team to stay on the right path?

The best answer is to measure yourself against your goals and the steps it takes to get there. Just how mature is your current process when measured against your overall vision? For this you need to develop a maturity model.

The best way to start is to seek out some existing maturity models and see if they align with your journey. A quick Google search brings back over a million hits on the term “content marketing maturity model,” that’s a lot to choose from.

One of my personal models is the one developed by Robert Rose of the Content Marketing Institute and referenced in Joe Pulizzi’s excellent book “Epic Content Marketing.” It’s an excellent starting point, but I found it missing something when aligning it to business goals.

On the other hand the model developed by Top Rank OnLine Marketing , which I also like, is maybe a bit too linear and business focused to the detriment of the broader vision.

So in the best traditions of hip-hop artists everywhere (of which I am most certainly not one), I created a mash-up of the two models; making a few changes here and there, putting a slightly different spin on some items.

Below is my version of a Content Marketing Maturity Model that I believe covers most needs and will help you map out your content marketing journey.

Content Marketing Maturity Model

In the next post I’ll dig deeper into how you decide where you are on that journey, and figure out where to place the “You Are Here” pin on the model.