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This Week in Content Marketing: Have We Ruined Storytelling?

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

This week, Robert and I ponder the ANA’s acquisition of the BMA, and take issue with a column lamenting the “good old days of content.” We also dig into the smart reasons Copyblogger has given for killing its Facebook page, explore the implications of yet another content agency mega-deal, and discuss “priceless” advice from MasterCard’s VP of global digital content. I rave about a fascinating “Meet Me at Starbucks” video, while Robert applauds a timely reminder from the late management guru Peter Drucker about the period of great transformation in which we live and work. We wrap up the show with a #This Old Marketing example from Qualcomm Spark.

This week’s show

                                                  (Recorded live on October 20, 2014; Length: 51:01)

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1. Content Marketing in the News

  • ANA Buys BMA (2:38): The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) has agreed to acquire the Business Marketing Association (BMA) for an undisclosed sum, according to The New York Times. BMA has 2,500 business-to-business members, while ANA has more than 630 business-to-consumer members. I point out that the two groups have radically different memberships and needs, and express concerns about the fate of BMA’s services and its members. Robert agrees — in an acquisition, something always gets eliminated, and one organization frequently gets subsumed by the other one.
  • The “Content” Conversation — Has It Ruined Storytelling? (8:13): In this AdAge opinion column, “Media Guy” Simon Dumenco waxes philosophical about the “good old days of content.” I take issue with his ad-centric view that content marketing is the same thing as branded content, while Robert expresses his general annoyance at a tone that suggests that marketing has somehow ruined the art of storytelling.
  • Copyblogger Kills Its Facebook Page (14:24): This excellent post from Erica Napoletano explains Copyblogger’s rationale behind its decision to kill its Facebook page. When Napoletano took on the task of trying to improve its effectiveness, she discovered several major problems, and after her experiments to increase engagement failed to produce the desired results, Copyblogger decided to pull the plug to focus on channels where its communities are thriving. I agree with this decision and emphasize that marketers need to prioritize the channels they should focus on. Robert and I both applaud Copyblogger’s willingness to jettison initiatives that aren’t performing well.
  • UTA and Edelman Form New Agency (25:28): PR giant Edelman is joining forces with United Talent Agency to create an experiential marketing and branded content firm, which will be called United Entertainment Group, A DJE Company. The joint venture will be an international full-service entertainment, sports, and experiential marketing agency, according to this article from MediaPost. As the pace of agency mergers and acquisitions continues to accelerate, Robert predicts that smaller agencies will need to get serious about content marketing now or risk losing business.
  • MasterCard VP of Global Digital Marketing: ‘Content Marketing Is Flawed’ (31:10): At the recent C3 Conference in New York City, MasterCard VP of Global Digital Marketing Adam Broitman discussed reasons why content and marketing are often at odds with each other, reports. Broitman asserted that brands need to forget about marketing themselves and focus on customer needs and wants. Broitman’s message aligns with what Robert and I have been telling clients for years, and we discuss why this shift is often hard for large organizations to make. Priceless!

2. Sponsor (36:14)

  • This week, This Old Marketing is being sponsored by Ektron, a global leader in digital experience management software. Ektron is promoting a new eBook, The 5-Minute Guide to Rebranding and Redesigning Your Website. Why does a company decide to rebrand or redesign its website, and who sets the priorities? Companies tend to redesign their websites because they’re not meeting expectations for customer engagement, lead generation and revenue. And, while IT used to set website priorities, now it’s marketing. This 5-Minute Guide explains more at


3. Rants and Raves (38:13)

  • Joe’s Rave: Starbucks has created a fascinating 6-minute video called Meet Me at Starbucks, which tells the stories of meetings that happened at 28 store locations in cities around the world in one day. It also contains something I’ve never seen in a YouTube video before: A timeline with dotted-line “loops” that enable you to branch off and learn more about each customer’s story. It shows you the path you took as well as the stories you missed — very cool!
  • Robert’s Rave: Robert shares his love of a post from the Harvard Business Review blog entitled What Peter Drucker Knew About 2020, in which the executive director of the Drucker Institute describes the trends the management expert foresaw. His predictions about knowledge work, innovation, purpose, and a potential class division between knowledge and service workers ring true in today’s uncertain business environment. It’s an inspiring, thought-provoking article.

4. This Old Marketing Example of the Week (45:39)

  • Qualcomm Spark: Qualcomm has created a terrific website called Spark that is focused on how technology enables innovation. It seeks to inform readers about what’s going on in the world of technology — and what we can learn from it — without trying to sell readers on Qualcomm’s products. Spark contains technology news, columns on a variety of technology topics, and an impressive collection of episodic videos — all produced in less than two years at a significant level of investment. What’s amazing is that the company has given the members of its editorial staff the freedom to cover whatever they want, as long as it meets Spark’s business goals and editorial mission. This almost never happens at large companies. Hats off to this well-executed example of content marketing!


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

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