To prep you for the Intelligent Content Conference March 23-25 in San Francisco, Content Marketing NEXT is speaking with a few of ICC’s speakers.
Interviewing CMI’s Chief Strategy Officer Robert Rose is always a treat. His approach to content as an industry, an art form, and a science is engaging and insightful. In this interview for Content Marketing NEXT, Robert provides some great nuggets as he gets ready for the launch of his new book, co-authored with Carla Johnson, Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing.
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What’s new, what’s now, what’s next
As Chief Strategy Officer for CMI, Robert works with organizations around the world to develop a stronger and more successful strategy around content. “Embracing” is the new keyword in his consulting. Businesses are coming to the conclusion that content marketing is necessary. The conversation is no longer about “should we do content marketing,” rather “how do we scale this across the organization?” Organizations are looking past the project and asking how to turn content into a process.
The conversation is also starting to go beyond the marketing department; however, the inclusion of other departments into the content strategy conversation is slow. Over the past decade, marketing has become a silo. Robert refers to this as “small marketing,” in which each area (PR, demand gen, brand, social) is running its own little world to create effective small marketing programs without working together holistically.
Before marketing can begin to expand content strategy to other departments such as HR and customer service, practitioners need to look at how they connect what they are doing within marketing first.
How do we begin to bring together our marketing silos? Build your network, according to Robert. Find those comrades of content and inspire the revolution. Start with small collaborations and grow from there. When developing a new content project, go to each cross-functional group where that project should work and find out how it adds value to their world. Then, together, build the business case for the content.
Our conversation on how the marketing department must evolve led me to ask Robert specifically about the roles of content marketing strategist and content strategist. While each represents a different function, the same person may tackle both roles.
Content marketing strategist: This function requires an understanding of how the story should be told and how it needs to be broken down for each persona that needs to hear this story. A key component is to ensure content resonates with all audiences, both internal and external.
Content strategist: This function defines how the story will be scaled across the organization. Global translations, governance, technology, content design for various platforms, etc., are all part of the content strategist’s role in helping content move efficiently and flow through the organization.
Robert believes that creating customer-centric or content-driven experiences is where content marketing is going next. This will require the marketing department to have individuals with unique talents and skill sets. Journalism, good content creators and producers, and excellent writers and speakers make up the “new” marketing department.
The most important skill for content creators is to be a compelling storyteller. Going forward, the differentiator is content that provides an experience for the audience.
Robert does have a big hairy audacious goal when it comes to the profession of marketing. He wants to be a part of this revolution that will transform the field of marketing into a profession like the law and medical fields.
Blast the buzzword
Robert’s buzzword: Native advertising
Robert wants to get rid of native advertising as a phrase, not the practice.
The problem he sees is twofold. Companies think they should write content that looks exactly like the host media outlet. Then the company treats the content like an ad unit. Both of these concepts need to be thrown out the window.
If you are going to take advantage of native advertising, you need to write better than the media outlet. Your objective should be to convert the reader to do something – become your direct audience member, subscribe to your database, or follow your channel. Your objective should be to pull the audience from the native ad to your own content platforms.
You should treat native advertising as a paid way to co-brand your content in the conceit of that publication. What you create is up to you, but it should pull that audience to you.
In the hot seat
Here’s a recap of Robert’s hot-seat Q&A:
What innovation in the last five years has made your life as a content marketer better?
The innovation around content marketing technologies overall has been a big game changer. The ability and ease we now have to create sound and video, for example, has allowed content creators of all kinds to create interesting and fun content.
What is the most valuable advice you have been given personally or professionally?
My grandfather was a wealth of information and advice. Years ago, he shared this wisdom: What experience have you created for somebody lately?
Creating experiences for someone, whether artistic or business, allows you to not only have the opportunity to impact another person, you also get the chance to experience your role in its creation.
What book have you read that still stays with you today?
Non-fiction: The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler. He makes Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey consumable and approachable for the writer. He takes modern storytelling and puts it into a mythic structure. It’s a great book for writers and content creators.
Fiction: Robert recently was re-reading Walt Whitman. He mentioned Leaves of Grass and how Whitman would revisit his work over time, rewriting it along the way. So depending on the version you pick up, it may be a rewrite from his previous work.
Hear from Robert Rose and other content strategy experts at the Intelligent Content Conference March 23-25. Register today. Can’t make it to San Francisco? Sign up for our weekly Intelligent Content newsletter with exclusive content from Robert.
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Cover image courtesy of Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute