The good news is, that actually happened. Ok, well, kind of. Content Marketing Institute asked 320 agency marketers about their content marketing habits in their recent survey “Agency Content Marketing 2019: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends.” 42% of them consider themselves at the “sophisticated” or “mature” phase of content marketing maturity.
So, this really matters and I’ll tell you why. What I’m finding over and over again is that the best performing teams, the ones that are out there killing it for their customers, are the ones that struggle the most with their own marketing. I hate to see it happen that way especially when I’ve seen what can happen when it’s done right. That’s why we love to work with companies marketing to marketers. So often WE ARE THEIR MARKET, so we don’t have to imagine what it’s like to be in the customer’s shoes, we live it.
Ok, enough chatter. Slap on the sunblock, gas up the car, and let’s go.
The Map to the Destination
It would be silly to leave for the Content Marketing Resort without knowing how to get there, right? The CMI report says “content marketers who have a documented strategy often report higher levels of overall content marketing success in their organization.” Of course, if you’re a person who reads reports about effective content marketing, you’ll see this is consistent across industries. So in that way, documenting strategy is par for the exotic resort golf course you might play on during your adventure.
What our team sees when we’re working with marketing industry companies (think marketing agencies, marketing operations technology, and marketing automation consultants) and marketing agencies is the ever popular cobbler’s shoes syndrome (known in “vacation world” as the coconut maker’s bra syndrome). Companies are so busy helping create efficiencies and execute on strategies that they haven’t made time or space to cultivate something truly meaningful for their own marketing approaches.
In this report, we see that “49% of those surveyed report their organization is in the sophisticated/ mature phase of content marketing maturity.” That feels good, doesn’t it? But if you’re looking at it from where I stand, that’s leaves 51% of marketers in marketing industry roles still struggling. I’m not saying I’m a pessimist, but I am saying that we need to ensure that the whole umbrella-laden, exotic-fruit-on-the-rim, cocktail-glass-half-full approach isn’t taken to an extreme with a 1% differential. It’s pretty clear that the industry could use a little boost when it comes to their content marketing game.
Mapping out the Route
So, you’re packing and planning for the Content Marketing Resort. We need road trip food! And a clear strategy to get us there efficiently. But once you get on the road, a marketer can get a little lost. And we see this in the responses Content Marketing Institute compiled from our marketing agency friends. One out of three (32%) agency respondents report high levels of content marketing success yet 74% of agency content marketers say their organization is extremely/very committed to content marketing.
The good news is closing the gap on those numbers isn’t as traumatic as you might think. What we do see when we’re working with marketing industry companies is they’re committed, in theory, to content marketing strategy, but the actual execution can be tricky. When you have marketers at agencies or marketing companies who deal with billable hours and client requests get pitted against internal work, billable hours typically wins out over your own marketing.
Agencies and marketing industry companies need to flip the script on how they perceive their marketing execution. Like, say, you’re at the Content Marketing Resort working towards a fitness goal. You can choose to eat a huge pile of chilaquiles and top it off with a margarita (extra umbrella plz) or you can carve out the time to get to the gym before the family gets up AND THEN go eat the chilaquiles.
If carving out the time is simply not possible, hiring an outsider who is untouched by your internal “grind culture” can help ensure that you make the time and space needed to build and fuel your marketing machine. That way organizations are using the productive pressure of cash expenditure to prioritize internal marketing efforts.
The Stops Along The Way
Are we going to do some sight seeing on the way to Content Marketing Resort? OF COURSE WE ARE! We need souvenirs! Even though strategy is important and the map is there to keep us from going astray, that doesn’t mean we won’t make a few fun stops en route.
The first stop along the way is going to be paid promotion land. It’s a little like Legoland, but costs a lot more money and you’re only doing it because the free walks in the park aren’t impressing the kids anymore.
Paid promotion isn’t exactly breaking news - 59% of agency content marketers say their organization uses paid methods to distribute content. In fact, paid promotion is a core part of the PESO strategy (coined by Gini Dietrich) and absolutely will add value and traffic to your overarching content marketing strategy. The challenge is, however, the platforms that offer paid promotion are complex and change often. When I was building the marketing team for the digital marketing agency, our dedicated account reps were given a certain number of hours each week just to keep up with changes to algorithms, user interfaces of the tools, and time with the platform reps to ensure they could ask questions. Most of us don’t have those kind of resources, so it makes sense to outsource this to ensure you’re maximizing that investment.
Your Travel Budget
Alas, no trip is free. Content Marketing Resort will be worth the outlay, but you do have to plan ahead. It appears more people are headed to Content Marketing Resort, too, since agency content marketers “say their organization increased spending on content creation more so than other areas of content marketing in the last 12 months.”
How do you stand out from your competitors when you’re all ramping up? Like the best agency content marketers (15%, according to the report), we are at an expert level for helping integrate technology across organizations. Content Marketing Resort won’t be the only resort of its kind for very long, and it will be important for you to decide which experience is best for you and your family. Choosing the right marketing mix to promote your messages isn’t all that different. Here’s what we recommend you look out for:
Time To Check Out
We’re not going to let you get away without an evaluation of the trip. What kind of establishment would this be?
The 320 agency content marketers said four things were most important to content marketing success:
I'm a veteran digital marketer whose career has grown up with the Internet.