Marketing is becoming like the fashion business. There are incremental changes and long-term alterations, or modifications that are permanent. The Internet and Google have transformed the marketing, precipitating its own unique set of trends. Fads come and go, but migration to the web and mobile is a sea-level change in how you get customers.
Publishing original content goes hand in hand with web presence. Business owners hear that they have to be on social media, have to have a website, have to blog and so forth. Producing and distributing Web-based content is a vital component of marketing for the foreseeable future.
Thanks to the Internet, companies now face a longer consideration cycle for their b2b products and services. The amount of information on the web is endless—have no doubt that researchers considering products like yours are taking their time to learn as much as they can before approaching your sales team.
The big brands that want to influence the behaviour of their markets need to reach influencers and people researching a solution—whenever and wherever they look—but the reality is there is such an overwhelming amount of available information that it makes it near impossible to break through the clutter and get their message across. So, what is a marketer to do?
Brand Journalism: Content without a Cause
Enter brand journalism, a marketing fashion trend created to solve this issue. Since buyers control so much of the buying process, the thought goes, “We don’t need publishers—let’s do it ourselves!” Brand journalism cuts out the middle man by allowing brands to write and distribute thought leadership content all on their own. Brands increasingly utilize digital publishing and social media in an effort to reach clients.
However, many businesses fall into the trap of rushing to do brand journalism without any consideration to its impact—or lack thereof—on ROI. The buzzword captivates the imaginations of innovative people that may not know the business justification for it.
If a brand journalism initiative lacks a connection to the sales organization and business imperatives, then it won’t survive more than one or two business cycles. You might start a brand journalism site with the hope that it will project thought leadership or generate leads, but do you know how to get ROI out of it?
Brand journalism may satiate your sales team, but when the project loses its sponsor and no one can point to its value, it will be inevitably scrapped. If you create a web property that isn’t connected to ROI, then there’s going to come a day when someone asks, “How does this generate leads?” and you won’t have an answer.
Before throwing your thought leadership out into the wild, ask yourself if brand journalism is a viable tactic for you. Is there a connectivity to revenue? Can this publishing project survive more than one budget cycle? If the budget cycle is not connected to the project, then chances are more than likely that it will go off the rails. With no revenue associated with it, no sales sponsorship and no sales leadership committed to what’s being done, the project is at major risk.
What if you could tie your thought leadership to sales goals?
Content2Revenue: Focus on ROI is the Big Difference
Unlike brand journalism, Content2Revenue integrates branded content with sound Inbound Marketing methodology. From its inception, an Content2Revenue initiative connects thought leadership to the revenue imperatives of the firm—ROI is the raison d'être of Content2Revenue.
The business imperatives need to be true imperatives, such as generating leads or closing gaps. Maybe your company faces a perception gap, wherein your identity differs from how the market perceives you. If that’s the case, then you should focus on leveraging thought leadership to drive business value. Or maybe you face a revenue gap, and you will not be able to achieve your objectives by continuing to do the things you are doing today. Whatever the gap may be, you need to be able to measure it.
Sales and marketing must agree on a revenue model for the Content2Revenue initiative. When marketing generates leads, sales needs to pursue those leads and tell marketing what happens. If market research and brand perception needs work, then sales agrees to guide marketing and help fund the project. This is the key difference for Content2Revenue—its sponsor must consider and understand the connectivity to the imperatives of the organization AND work with sales to make the material perform.
Therefore, getting more people to support and serve an Content2Revenue initiative is easier because it has measurable connectivity to the firm’s ROI. Unlike brand journalism, Content2Revenue doesn’t just influence people—it drives business, too.