Author: Robert Rose

Robert is the founder and chief strategy officer of The Content Advisory, the education and consulting group for The Content Marketing Institute. Robert has worked with more than 500 companies, including 15 of the Fortune 100. He’s provided content marketing and strategy advice for global brands such as Capital One, NASA, Dell, McCormick Spices, Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Robert’s third book – Killing Marketing, with co-author Joe Pulizzi has been called the “book that rewrites the rules of marketing.” His second book – Experiences: The Seventh Era of Marketing is a top seller and has been called a “treatise, and a call to arms for marketers to lead business innovation in the 21st century.” Robert’s first book, Managing Content Marketing, spent two weeks as a top 10 marketing book on and is generally considered to be the “owners manual” of the content marketing process. You can follow him on Twitter @Robert_Rose.

By robert-rose published February 18, 2022

Writing Is Writing, Right? Not If You Want To Keep Your Content Creation Team [Rose-Colored Glasses]

“It’s time to make the donuts.”

This phrase from a 1981 Dunkin’ Donuts ad campaign has become part of our workplace culture. People use it to talk about preparing to do something repetitive, grueling, or meaningless.

But that’s a misreading of the original message.

The ad featured Fred the Baker, who woke up very early every morning, struggled out of bed, and repeated his mantra, “Time to make the donuts.” By the end of the ads, Fred greeted his customers with a big smile, proud of his work.

“It’s time to make the donuts” wasn’t a lament about doing the same menial task day after day.

It conveyed Fred’s commitment to creating something special day after day.

The tension between creating content that feels special and constructing useful (but menial) content resonates with so many content practitioners. Without an adequate balance between the two, content creators may lose interest in their roles.Continue Reading

By robert-rose published February 16, 2022

Your Content Mission in 2022: Get Ambitious and Embrace New Responsibilities

We spend a lot of time at CMI thinking about the purpose of content in business. It sounds funny. The purpose of content in business?

When we start work with a company on putting a functional plan around their content, a senior leader in the business (usually somebody in finance or operations) often says, “Isn’t that word content too big? Doesn’t that mean everything we do?”

“Yup. It does,” I reply, followed by an awkward moment of silence.

Without realizing it, they’ve unconsciously made the argument of why it is valuable to sort out the function of content in their company.Continue Reading

By robert-rose published February 11, 2022

How To Recognize (and Solve) Wicked Content Strategy Problems [Rose-Colored Glasses]

Content strategy is a wicked problem.

Don’t worry. I didn’t adopt Bostonian lingo.

A wicked problem is hard to solve because of “incomplete, contradictory, or changing requirements that can be difficult to recognize.”

I like information researcher Jeff Conklin’s description of wicked problems as those “not understood until after the formulation of a solution.”

I see wicked problems a lot in content strategy. One of the toughest is recognizing why you need to change when you can’t see how things are broken.Continue Reading

By robert-rose published February 4, 2022

Want To Scale Your Content Strategy? Hiring Isn’t the Answer [Rose-Colored Glasses]

If you ask an actor or screenwriter about their career goals, they’ll almost all say, “But what I really want to do is direct.” Or so goes the Hollywood trope.

Ironically, the director participates the least in the creative work. A director’s role isn’t to write, act, play music, edit, or even point a camera. The director’s job is to direct the individual artists’ contributions to the film product.

Yes, some directors do double duty by writing or acting in their films or shows. But the director’s function remains clear: Guide, enable, and manage a team of storytellers to efficiently produce powerfully engaging work.Continue Reading

By robert-rose published January 28, 2022

How Planning To Fail Can Succeed [Rose-Colored Glasses]

An interesting question came up recently in a marketing group I follow on social media: “What content should we create?”

The first few comments on the post were what you might suspect. Some people encouraged the poster to interview people who fit their personas to find out what they struggle with. Others talked about getting over writer’s block. A few suggested they list every question their potential customers might have and write posts about that.

The original poster responded by acknowledging the value of these responses but clarified the question. They weren’t asking what they should write that would resonate with their target audiences. They were looking for content ideas that would drive the most reactions. Full stop.Continue Reading

By robert-rose published January 26, 2022

B2C Marketers: Make Sure You Are on Stable Ground [New Research]

There’s a wonderful scene in the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade when the rich investor, Walter Donovan, tries to convince Indy to go after the Holy Grail. He says, “We’re on the verge of completing a quest that began almost 2,000 years ago. We’re just one step away.” Indy responds, “That’s usually when the ground falls out from underneath your feet.”

When we released our 2021 B2C content marketing research, I noted the data showed the “imperative to develop direct, digital relationships with customers” became more important. But the pandemic making us all feel a little like Indiana Jones: “We’re making this up as we go.”

The pandemic and other events of 2020 had given marketers confidence in increasing the importance of content marketing. But, I noted, the responsibility coming from that power was important. If content marketers wanted to succeed, scale, and grow, they needed to help their businesses understand how to realize their “gut feeling” that better content was necessary through an intelligent and functional strategy.

Well, CMI’s B2C Content Marketing: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – Insights for 2022 indicates that B2C marketers still struggle with some classic content marketing challenges.

What challenges lie in wait for 2022?

Well, let’s explore.Continue Reading

By robert-rose published January 21, 2022

Your Audience Isn’t Really Interested in ‘Just the Facts’ Anymore [Rose-Colored Glasses]

Last week, I spoke to a client in the health care industry whose team wanted to develop a new digital content customer experience. But they felt frustrated.

Five years ago, with help from a couple of ad agency consultants, they’d come up with the idea to launch a digital platform to provide easy access to facts. All they needed, they thought, was to set up a digital library that could answer every question existing clients might have.

They would “let the facts speak for themselves” and win the customer retention battle.

<Narrator>: “It didn’t work.”Continue Reading

By robert-rose published January 14, 2022

You Could Build a Content Strategy While ‘Flying’ It – But Here’s a Better Way [Rose-Colored Glasses]

Are you trying to build your plane while flying it?

I don’t know where that phrase originated, but a 22-year-old advertising campaign from Fallon for digital consulting firm EDS helped popularize it. The comical TV and print ad showed people assembling an airliner in the air and testifying to how much they love their jobs.

The ad’s tagline explained the point – that EDS could help you “build your digital business even while you’re up and running.”

Fallon created the ad as part of an integrated campaign with two other funny videos: Cat Herders, about managing the complexity of digital business, and Running With the Squirrels, which claimed EDS could help legacy businesses compete like disruptive startups.

But the “building the plane while flying it” metaphor endures in digital strategy, and it’s usually invoked when established processes or procedures change.

These days, it feels like companies are building a whole lot of airplanes.Continue Reading

By robert-rose published January 7, 2022

Why You Might Not Need a Unified Content Development Process (Yet) [Rose-Colored Glasses]

The pandemic made organizations care (finally) about building a strategic content development function.

As a result, I see more and more content marketing leaders face the challenge of solving how content flows through the business. It all comes down to organizations finally learning what it means to act like a media company.

It won’t be easy.

Enterprises are a messy thatch of conflicting agendas, values, priorities, and goals. And the effects of these conflicts seem particularly harsh when it comes to content.

Why? Because content is communication. When parts of the business aren’t communicating well internally, the business can’t communicate well externally.Continue Reading

By robert-rose published December 8, 2021

Stop Juggling Content Creation – Follow This 5-Step Planning Process

We humans sometimes have a funny way of planning.

When thinking about how we’re going to allocate our time, resources, etc., we like to categorize things. In our personal lives, those categories might be work, lifestyle, family. In our business lives, they might be via divisions, marketing, sales, product, human resources, accounting, etc.

To make a plan, we put all the decisions made about our desired goals in each of these categories and break them down into tasks so that we can achieve them. Then we try to juggle them all. But we can’t. The decisions made here don’t fit the plan for there. And the plan there doesn’t fit the critical decision made here.Continue Reading