By Joe Pulizzi published March 14, 2012

Selling the C-Level: 7 Content Marketing Myths Debunked

During Jay Baer’s and my SXSW presentation, we had a number of questions about selling content marketing into the organization and to senior executives. Most of the questions revolved around myths that senior marketing managers believe, but that are actually not true at all.

In a recent Altimeter Content Marketing study, they found that if an organization is interested in developing an integrated content marketing strategy, they must take four fundamental steps. Altimeter said:

  1. They must understand that content marketing is not free. Effective content initiatives require a significant investment in internal staff, as well as production and distribution resources.
  2. They must be willing to educate and train staff in new digital skill sets across an organization, not just within a marketing department.
  3. They must integrate content marketing with advertising so that the two strategies can fully express a brand’s story.
  4. They must balance the desire to try new techniques, such as video, with the use of fundamentals such as email newsletters and blogs.

Making the business case for content marketing is key, but still a number of myths stand in our way. So…let’s debunk them.

Myth #1: My clients don’t consume online content

We hear this all the time. Some senior marketers say that they target CEOs, who don’t use search engines or social media. Recent Google research tells us that the average consumer engages in over 10 sources of information before making a buying decision. Also, according to research from Doremus and the Financial Times, over 60 percent of senior executives read blogs, watch online video, view webcasts, and use professional networking sites like LinkedIn.

Myth #2: We don’t have time to create content

Online content marketing is the ultimate informational annuity. For example, during the SXSW presentation, Jay shared his statistics on just one post on social media strategy he created almost three years ago. The post still attracts an average of 300 people per day (to just that one post) and has led to multiple pieces of business for Jay. Our content marketing templates post gets about 400 visitors a day.  Really amazing stuff.

This is also the reason why you have to step out of the campaign mentality that most brands have.  The ROI on content marketing needs a longer-term view than we are used to.

Myth #3: We can just do social media, we don’t need content

Jay’s Content Marketing Necessity Scale says it all. If people are already talking about you online in the right places, you don’t need as much original content as those that aren’t yet invited to the party. Frankly, if you want to be shared and talked about in social media, you need some amazing content to make your social media go. As Jay says, “Content is fire. Social media is gasoline.”Content Marketing Necessity Scale

Myth #4: We can just do a blog

Today, a blog is just a ticket to the ball game. Sixty-five percent of B2B companies have blogs today. In order to be the leading expert for your industry, you need to take story ideas and adapt them to channels, like blowing a dandelion in the wind. For example, with the Content Marketing Playbook, although the eBook was the main content product, we produced a SlideShare version, multiple podcasts, multiple blog posts, a news release, an enewsletter version, snippets in our print magazine, Chief Content Officer, guest blogs, promotions on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and more. The SlideShare version alone has had over 13,000 downloads and was essentially free to distribute.

Myth #5: We’ll give away all our secret sauce

Contrary to what some people believe, a prospect doesn’t read one blog post and buys on the spot. Even back in the day when I sold print advertising, we always talked about how a business buyer would need to see your ad at least seven times for it to make any impact on the brand’s goals.

Through our content, we develop attention, then interest, then action. So you’ve got to work it by solving the pain points of your customers. Yes, you may give away your secrets, but having a grocery list doesn’t make you a chef. Those customers that want to take your advice and do it themselves?… fine. Those are not the kind of customers you want. What you need to do is show your expertise and insight, and have smart executives recognize your talent.

Myth #6: We shouldn’t talk about price in our content

Jay and I call this the Marcus Sheridan effect. Marcus is owner of River Pools and Spas and is now a prominent marketing speaker and consultant. Marcus was able to sell more fiberglass swimming pools than anyone in the country by sharing everything, including specifics on price. Just type in anything around pricing and fiberglass pools into Google… Marcus always comes up and dominates the search rankings. This same philosophy has also worked in his marketing practice. If you can’t talk specific pricing, at least talk about the dynamics that go into pricing. This is your competitive advantage waiting to happen.

Myth #7: Content marketing is separate from other areas of marketing

This is a major problem right now in large enterprises.  Content initiatives are being separated throughout an organization.  Some are in social media, some in search, some in mobile, others in public relations, some are with the agency and more.  I attended a conference on email recently where an email content director in one of the largest travel companies in the world had never talked to the person who runs content for their social media programs. Yikes!

This is exactly why we are seeing the rise of the Chief Content Officer role…the person who can help coordinate the storytelling throughout an organization where traditional silos have existed for decades.

Now there’s seven myths…which ones did I miss?

Author: Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi considers himself the poster boy for content marketing. Founder of the Content Marketing Institute, Joe evangelizes content marketing around the world through keynotes, articles, tweets and his books, Managing Content Marketing and Get Content Get Customers. Joe's latest book is Epic Content Marketing (McGraw-Hill). If you want to get on his good side, send him something orange. For more on Joe, check out his personal site or follow him on Twitter @JoePulizzi.

Other posts by Joe Pulizzi

  • http://twitter.com/joshhealan Josh Healan

    Thanks Joe, great post. These are seven of the hundred or so myths I hear executives tell themselves daily as it relates to content. Fortunately for everyone there are more executives today that ‘get it’ than ever before but for every one that is a believer there’s one that still lives within the myths you list here. Keep up the great work CMI is doing, I’ll keep doing my thing, and hopefully some day the billions that are still spent by executives on weak 30-second TV spots will move to content marketing.    

  • http://www.mynotetakingnerd.com/blog Lewis LaLanne aka Nerd #2

    Number one entails my favorite which is, “This probably works for XYZ businesses but my business is different.” I love that argument to a tried and true marketing strategy. What’s great is when you can prove to them that all business thrives on getting leads and converting them to your desired action.

    ALL BUSINESSES. This is nothing more than a way to slow cook leads and keep your customers coming back for more.

    Thank you Joe for being a force for good out here in the wild west debunking these garbage beliefs that has the danger to keep the economy down on it’s kness.

  • http://twitter.com/C_Pappas Christina Pappas

    My current company said we dont need a website because if people are interested, they will just call. Couldnt believe it!

  • http://www.brickmarketing.com/ Nick Stamoulis

    A good social media strategy requires good content.  Without it, what are you really sharing?  If you consistently are sharing links to helpful information, it will establish trust with social media followers.  

  • http://www.web-savvy-marketing.com/ Rebecca Gill

    With over a decade of experience in B2B marketing, I tend to become burned out on defending the fact that c-level executives to read blog posts and they do research purchases online.  The statement “over 60 percent of senior executives read blogs” is dead on with everything I’ve experienced in my time in B2B tech marketing.  While a c-level may not do the initial product research, they absolutely use websites and blogs to vet possible technology providers and product purchases.  And I firmly believe many c-levels subscribe to blogs and newsletters and read these regularly.

  • Lois

    Great post! Every marketer, or anyone who wants to be one, needs to read this!