Add one more responsibility to a marketer's job description: content marketing.
For marketers looking for best practices, Internet marketer Lee Odden's new book, "Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More Customers by Integrating SEO, Social Media, and Content Marketing" offers invaluable advice (aka content).
Just like it takes a village to raise a child, Odden contends in "Optimize" that it takes many stakeholders in an organization - and not just on the marketing team - to contribute to an effective content marketing program and integrate it with search and social marketing. Those stakeholders – who can also benefit from content marketing – include public relations, customer service, and human relations.
The book emphasizes that marketers must create content that's relevant to customers and prospects. It must also be easy to find (SEO) and easy to share (social optimization) as well as meet business objectives (brand awareness, sales, customer loyalty.) "Is your marketing mechanical or meaningful?" Odden asks, a recurring theme in "Optimize."
So what exactly is content marketing? Odden, editor of TopRankBlog.com and a ClickZ contributor, defines it this way:
Content marketing is an approach to attract, engage, and inspire customers to a logical conclusion to buy and share through content that empathizes with the varied interests and behaviors during the buying cycle.
Or, you may prefer the author's lighter definition. He writes:
My favorite food metaphor for the relationship between search, social, and content is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, with SEO [search engine optimization] as the peanut butter, social media as the jelly, and content as the bread that holds it all together.
A few years ago, content marketing typically referred to special advertising supplements in magazines and newspapers. It also encompassed custom publications prepared on behalf of brands, such as the Four Seasons magazine, which covers style, design, and other topics that are aligned to clients' passions and interests.
Today, social networks, platforms, and tools - Facebook, YouTube, SlideShare, Storify, and Pinterest - enable businesses and just about anyone anywhere to build audiences and connect with them as long as that content is relevant.
In business, that world requires all hands on deck - and Odden understands that. For executive-level marketers, many chapters in "Optimize" provide a high-level discussion examining the interdependency of search (discovery) and social (sharing) - and what that means for marketing. For those seeking to better understand the geekier side of marketing - specifically SEO - the book dives into more technical topics such as documenting keyword metrics and developing a keyword glossary.
For all marketers, "Optimize" offers a clear cut path to establish objectives, better understand their audience, and then create a content plan. For instance, the book lists 20 different content types (articles to webinars) and then offers approaches to optimizing each one so they can be discovered and shared online. Consider informational graphics. Odden offers 11 tips for marketers to get the most exposure for this type of content. (Example: "Involve credible sources in the data collection, such as prominent companies, people, or research organizations…")
Odden's also a realist, recognizing that many organizations don't have talent or time to consistently develop high-quality content. So, he identifies internal and external resources that should help marketers develop approaches to create content - such as finding out what frontline staff in sales and customer service are being asked most often (internal) or curating content, such as news, useful resources, stats, and relevant SlideShare/PowerPoint presentations (external).
Even if you're already executing on an awesome content marketing plan, "Optimize" is a good read. Count on it to provide you with even more ideas that you can immediately put into action. And if you are just starting out and struggling, you can lean on "Optimize" to serve as a playbook to guide your efforts.