By Joe Pulizzi published February 18, 2014

Why Getting Recognition for Your Content Marketing Is so Critical

image-cmaI’ll be honest with you: I used to think that awards programs were just another way organizations could extract money from needy agencies and brands that want a hug.

Since I’ve been involved in the Content Marketing Awards, now the oldest and largest industry awards program, I’ve had to rethink my stance.

Let me explain. 

Lately, some marketers are anxious about something called “content shock.” They live in the fevered fear that soon we will hit a point where brands will be producing so much content that consumers will no longer be able to take it all in.

Which marketers are worried about that? The ones who should be: Those who have been producing the kind of content that consumers are beginning to reject: unimaginative, scattershot stuff that neither entertains nor makes itself useful. It looks like communication but smells more like corporate junk. These are the businesses that lack a coherent content marketing strategy and hope for big success with that viral video, post, or eBook.

This is exactly why I’ve changed my stance on recognizing the industry’s best. The content marketing industry needs this. We need to see that brands can develop content programs that truly make a positive impact on the world. We need to know that there are agencies out there that understand the power of storytelling and haven’t just jumped into content marketing as the new search marketing or new social media.

This makes the 2014 Content Marketing Awards program — which opens its call for entries today — even more essential to the still-burgeoning business of content marketing. It’s a program that separates the strategic marketers from the “me-too” content makers.

The best way to distinguish yourself, and help this industry grow, is to submit your best work for the 2014 Content Marketing Awards, where our judging panel of the best content marketers in the world separates the substandard from the truly great — just like consumers are learning to do.

A look at last year’s winner

The 2013 Content Marketing Award for Project of the Year was awarded to thinkMoney, a print magazine published by TD Ameritrade that also has web and mobile versions.

While you may think investing services equals conservative and buttoned-down (especially in complex derivatives markets), thinkMoney follows a different approach. It takes the subject of investing seriously, but it doesn’t take itself with the grim seriousness of many Wall Street firms. Instead, thinkMoney embraces a “sophisticated simplicity” approach that’s edgy without being flippant, and witty without being irreverent.

percent sign-thinkmoney cover

The thinkMoney approach is working:

  • It reaches more than 200,000 active trade customers.
  • According to surveys, the average customer engages with the magazine for 45 minutes or more per sitting.
  • More than 80 percent of readers take some meaningful action after reading.

Distinguish yourself. Distinguish your staff. Distinguish your agency. Distinguish your clients. Enter the 2014 Content Marketing Awards. The “early bird” discount deadline is April 18, and the final entry deadline is May 16.

Our Agency of the Year, Content Marketer of the Year, and Project of the Year Grand Awards will all be announced at Content Marketing World 2014. Join us in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, September 8–11, 2014 to learn from — and network with — the best and brightest our industry has to offer. 

Author: Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi is the Founder of Content Marketing Institute, a UBM company, the leading education and training organization for content marketing, which includes the largest in-person content marketing event in the world, Content Marketing World. Joe is the winner of the 2014 John Caldwell Lifetime Achievement Award from the Content Council. Joe’s the author of five books, including his latest, Killing Marketing. His third book, Epic Content Marketing was named one of “Five Must Read Business Books of 2013” by Fortune Magazine. If you ever see Joe in person, he’ll be wearing orange. Follow him on Twitter @JoePulizzi.

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  • Mike Sawyer

    Great article but how can small type guys compete to gain some glory.

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Hi Mike…there were a number of small companies that won Content Marketing Awards – they were not all big brands. In my opinion, the battlefield is equal, depending on the niche and the type of content.

    • NenadSenic

      Last year a small, really tiny by American standards, company from Slovenia (which is like half of Lake Michigan) got a Gold Award for its print magazine. So, if you’re good you have a chance. 🙂

      • Mike Sawyer

        I think I may wait just a bit and hone my skills to enter this. I’m a one man band.

  • Mike Sawyer

    Hey Joe, so a small one man band can win. Interesting, must think about this at greater length, thanks for the insight.

  • Vincent Messina

    case and point.

  • Vincent Messina

    Let me try this again, in a more polite fashion.

    The creation of bad content, by bad marketers, is not the only problem.

    As I see it, I think there is a real problem in the world of content marketing, but more as it pertains to what is being shared by influencers and their minions.

    People who want the attention of influencers, are sharing content that influencers create that may or may not pass the “useful” test. In an effort to get the attention of the influencer, other influencers advise people to make them feel good about their content. So now, content that might not be very good, is being shared, AND, being remarked on as excellent content.

    Influencers, when they find commentary on their content that sits in agreement of their assertions, label the commentary as subperb content. So now, they are giving the nod to content that provides very little utility or value at all.

    So now, content that isnt really shareable, is being shared. This creates a few problems. One, it is hard to find the good content. Two, when someone wants to produce good content, they look for models. Social shares and content popularity seem to be good indicators of the quality of a piece of content. So, now, people use the otherwise bad content, as a model for good content, and replicate it, thus adding more bad content into the main stream.

    It isnt just the bad marketers that are creating bad content. Bad content is also coming from the content experts. And worse, it is being labeled and shared as high quality, even when it misrepresents relevant facts.

    This isnt a problem for you?

  • Vincent Messina

    There is another problem with entire picture. The more social shares a piece of content gets, the more links they draw back to the original content, the more likely it will be that Google and other search engines will give the content page a high rank.

    Could a case be made that content usefulness is subjective and that if people are sharing it, they find it useful, so who cares?

    Yes. That argument can and should be made.

    But, my personal experience thus far tells me that while that argument applies, so to does my assertion that some really useless content is being shared primarily because people are stroking each others egos.

    There is good and bad in every system. If there can be flaws in the American system of justice, there can certainly be flaws in the system of content marketing. But accepting that there are flaws is not the same as doing nothing to fix them.

    300 shares on Google+ is an awesome number. It could represent that the content is good. But it could very easily represent that the content is being shared more for the attention of the influencer than the actual content quality itself.

    Search engines can’t measure brown nosing. So who are to be the police?

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Hi Vincent…thanks for the commentary. The goal of content marketing is to enhance or change a behavior. Those behaviors need to align with business objectives. If those objectives are accomplished, then the program is working. If not, we need to alter the program.

      Search engines, social shares…those are all lower-level metrics. If those lead to us generating sales, costs savings or happier customers, then great…but in and of themselves, they don’t matter to me.

      Thanks again for the comment. I appreciate the passion.

      • Ross

        I think consumers are the police. I can read something and +1 it or like it but that doesn’t mean I made a conversion, unless reading it is that conversion. It just means something convinced me that there is a good point inside. I guess that in and of itself could give some notoriety to the content if it gets enough response but I would think by that point the content is actually good.

        When it comes to product content marketing reviewing systems are in place. I rarely make a purchase without reading reviews first. The content marketing could be marketing gold but if the product doesn’t live up the expectations consumers will respond.

        Apple is a good example of people stroking egos when products fail. I was a Apple fanboy for a long time but then quit upgrading devices because I owned them for so long and didn’t feel they were living up to the hype of being the best anymore. Consumers need to be cautious because behind all good content marketing is a sales goal.