Skip to content

This Week in Content Marketing: Is Content Marketing Actually a Thing?


PNR: This Old Marketing with Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose can be found on both iTunes and Stitcher.

In this episode, Robert and I discuss whether there’s truly a difference between marketing and content marketing and, if so, whether one works better than the other. In M&A news, Google Acquires FameBit, while more publishers are starting to search for new media business models. Rants and raves include a celebrity-tinged perspective on marketing engagement, and some missed opportunities by Hewlett-Packard; lastly, we explore why MassMutual is sending its Millennial-focused Society of Grownups initiative into an early retirement in our example of the week.

This week’s show

(Recorded live on October 17, 2016; Length: 1:04:21)

Download this week’s PNR This Old Marketing podcast.

If you enjoy our PNR podcasts, we would love if you would rate it, or post a review, on iTunes

1.    Content marketing in the news

  • Is content marketing a load of bollocks? (07:30): In his recent Marketing Week column, Mark Ritson gives his 2 cents on whether or not the emergence of content marketing as a separate discipline is distracting marketers from their “real job of communicating with customers and selling stuff?” Robert and I were confused about the actual argument being made here; but in general we both feel that, at this point, anyone who still feels the need to question content marketing’s existence should at least back up their assertions with solid factual evidence.
Questioning #contentmarketing’s existence? Back up your assertions w/solid factual evidence says @joepulizzi. Share on X
  • Google acquires FameBit (23:45): TechCrunch reports that the Goliath of Google has swallowed up FameBit, a marketplace that connects video creators with potential sponsors for their content. There’s speculation that the move may be a way for the big G to compete with multichannel networks and/or overcome its issues with monetizing video. Regardless of the intent, Robert cautions marketers to remember that having access to an open marketplace of available content creators may be useful, but it’s not as critical as developing a trusted, exclusive relationship with the right influencers, so that both parties benefit.
  • Publishers become retailers in the market for survival (30:09): The Guardian examines the growing trend of magazine and newspaper publishers looking to prop up falling ad revenues by building e-commerce tie-ins for their publications. While I hope this discussion hits home with marketers — as it’s a trend that I see impacting them sooner, rather than later — Robert finds it curious that more U.K. journalists aren’t expressing their outrage over this form of uniting “church and state.”
  • What does HubSpot’s State of Inbound report mean for marketers? (35:49): A recent TopRank blog post offers an overview of HubSpot’s 2016 State of Inbound findings, including its analyses that educating the audience is the key to marketing success and that marketers’ investments in visual content will continue to rise. Though I have no issues with the study, I would like to see our friends at HubSpot place more of an emphasis on just how critical message differentiation is to marketing success.  

2.    Sponsor (39:05)

  • ion interactive: 50 Ways to Engage Your Audience — Interactive Lookbook: Want a fun way to get 50 ideas for improving content engagement? That’s what this interactive lookbook is all about. Each capability is illustrated as an example of itself. Have fun. Get ideas. Get results. Get the Lookbook.


3.    Rants and raves (40:51)

  • Robert’s rave No. 1: Robert sings the praises of two articles he discovered on this week. The first was written by the founder of OzComm Marketing, who just happens to be the son of iconic entertainer Donny Osmond. Robert felt that the entire article just kept hitting the right notes though he found one passage, in particular, that really struck a chord with him: “Storytelling marketing is not about tricking the mind; it’s about endearing the brand to the hearts of its clients and customers.”
Storytelling #marketing is about endearing the brand to the hearts of its customers says @DonOsmond. Share on X
  • Robert’s rave No. 2: A second article also speaks to the need for businesses to find the points of passion they share with their customers — and use them to break away from the pack. Robert agrees with the article’s main points and shares his thoughts on how a business’ beliefs should serve as the foundation for its marketing strategy.
  • Joe’s rant/rave: While browsing on, I came across an ad for Hewlett-Packard Enterprise.nxt — an online publication that offers insights for businesses looking to make a digital transformation. Though I give kudos to HP for putting some advertising dollars behind its content marketing effort, my enthusiasm quickly dissipated once I discovered that, not only does the site lack clear calls-to-action, but it was also a total chore for me to track it down through search.

4.    This Old Marketing example of the week (52:00)

  • It’s rare for us to use a high-profile failure as our Example of the Week; but MassMutual’s recent decision to shutter its Society for Grownups flagship storefront in Brookline, Massachusetts, holds some important lessons for content marketers. As discussed in an article from the Boston Globe, the life insurance company is abandoning the much-publicized live interaction platform it launched in 2014 — which aimed to help Millennials become more financially responsible — and will instead focus on creating digital and online resources to improve financial literacy education. The innovative initiative earned plenty of attention when it first launched (including a detailed profile piece, which ran in the February 2015 issue of Chief Content Officer magazine), but quickly struggled to gain the necessary traction to succeed. While we applaud MassMutual’s enterprising idea, we see two critical flaws with its strategy: First, the company targeted an audience of “adults 40 and under” which is, arguably, too broad an age range to be served by a single set of financial resources. Second, rather than trying to drive the audience to engage at a single geographical location, Mass Mutual should have started out with an online initiative, built a strong following among engaged consumers, and then leveraged that audience base to expand its presence onto other platforms.


Image source

For a full list of PNR archives, go to the main This Old Marketing page.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

How do I subscribe?

itunes logo

stitcher logo