From the moment he stepped off the stage at college graduation, Robert Rose has followed his passions. Today, the Chief Strategy Officer of the Content Marketing Institute brings his zeal for content to life through consulting, speaking engagements, and co-authoring his latest book, Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing.
In this episode of The Pivot, Todd Wheatland sits down with Robert to discover his journey to CMI, including his early days on the LA music scene, a brief stint in the Hollywood for ugly people, and his chance meeting with a bald guy at a Content Strategy Conference in Chicago.
Listen to Todd’s full interview with Robert here:
(Recorded live at Content Marketing Sydney 2015; Length: 33:15)
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What may surprise you
Robert is the CMI guy on the Content Marketing World stage who isn’t dressed head to toe in orange. He’s also the “R” from PNR’s This Old Marketing podcasts. Here are a few things you may not know about him:
- He spent about 90 minutes in pre-law before switching majors to English literature.
- A professional keyboard player, Robert had dreams of becoming a rock star in Hollywood. He has played in punk, country, funk, and cover bands.
- Showtime bought one of his TV series scripts and wanted to modify it – adding 90 seconds of nudity and a 30- to 45-second sex scene. Robert said no (for creative, not moral reasons). “I wanted to do superhero movies and great drama. I didn’t want to be known as that guy,” he says. He was fired.
- An early tech adopter, Robert plunged into business opportunities borne from the Internet in 1994. By 1997, he was working for USWeb on projects way above his pay grade – stamps.com and pets.com, as well as websites for the Academy Awards, NBC, Sony, etc.
- Robert saw content as a differentiator – before the words “content marketing” were ever used – while working as CMO for a start-up competing against the likes of IBM and Microsoft. It worked.
It was 11:30 p.m. in a misty LA night. Standing outside the famed Whisky a Go Go, waiting with his and other bands to perform, Robert looked around and saw the dregs of society. “What am I doing with my life? There has to be a better way,” he thought.
Robert went full time into writing, creating an off-Broadway play and selling a couple TV scripts (that didn’t make it to air).
In 2001, he went to work for an enterprise software start-up. As the de facto CMO, Robert knew the small company couldn’t compete against the monoliths of IBM and Microsoft. “We’d never win based on our seven guys,” he says.
Robert wanted to build a media team – to create a new type of marketing department. They produced a lot of quality content – white papers, blog posts, webinars, etc. – so the small company actually looked comparable when prospects searched the Internet. “I wanted us to be top of mind,” he says. Robert hired ex-journalists and graphic designers and taught them marketing. After 4 ½ years, their media products looked like they were produced by 300 people – it was actually 10.
Robert found his content marketing compatriot while speaking at a Content Strategy Conference in Chicago. He met Joe Pulizzi and the two talked, realizing they had a shared vision of the value of content to businesses even before it was called “content marketing.”
Content marketing’s evolution
Four or so years ago, Robert’s consulting work focused on helping businesses get started with content marketing and build a case for content. Today, 90 percent of his advisory work is focused on “fixing something considered broken” in the content marketing process.
As for the future, Robert sees content marketing evolving rather than having its bubble burst. He sees content marketing’s role growing as businesses take a step back and look at how to simplify processes, technology, teams, measurement, etc. Content/media will become even more core to the business. “It may not be content marketing anymore. It may just be marketing,” he says.
I’m seeing content, as a function, grow in greater credibility. It’s not just content as a by-product, as this thing we spew out into the universe and hopefully something happens. It’s a more focused, simpler, more impactful, and more creative process … (Content is) going to become more core to the business itself, like the business of what it is we do. And thus, it may not be called content marketing anymore, it may just be marketing. It may just be what we do, a function within the thing we call marketing.
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Cover image courtesy of Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute