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Forbes Thinks You Might Be Failing at Content Marketing (Here’s What We Think)

Forbes Thinks You Might Be Failing at Content Marketing (Here’s What We Think)

Nearly all of our Content Marketing All-Stars have talked about the importance of telling a brand’s story. Now, Forbes is taking this idea a bit further with the op-ed “Why Content Marketing Fails.” In it, Greg Satell dives into the approaches that lead companies astray and drives home the importance of thinking like a publisher (something everyone here at News360 can get behind).

Satell makes several strong statements about content marketers:

  • “Nobody who produces meaningful artistic expression thinks of themselves as a content producer.”
  • “I discovered that content strategy was in reality just another name for brand planners selling long form ads to clients. Nobody who was talking about content strategy seemed to have ever published or produced anything.”
  • “The truth is that if you find yourself feeling the need to talk about an ‘emotional connection,’ you probably don’t have one.”

Satell’s words can be jarring, but his op-ed contains important lessons everyone can use to employ a more genuine approach to content. The key to making something meaningful, he explains, is a passion for starting conversations and enriching people’s worlds. Satell cites two key success stories: Henry Luce who envisioned Time, Life, Fortune, People and Sports Illustrated, and Pixar President, Ed Catmull, who views his movies as a bumpy road to something great instead of a money-making endeavor. While growing your customer base and making money are a necessary part of any business model, they shouldn’t be your company’s go-to content marketing strategy.

“It takes passion to spend the long, hard hours required to produce anything good enough to make an impact,” writes Satell. “Excellence is about more than just showing up.”  We couldn’t agree more. Stories are key to building relationships with readers. After all, how would you feel if someone was viewing your precious time as nothing more than a return on investment?

For all his commentary about the problems with content marketing, Satell’s viewpoints do have a silver lining: he notes that most companies have the potential to offer great content to the world—their efforts up to this point are just misguided.

If you find yourself in this trap, recognizing the differing roles between marketers and publishers is a great way to start reevaluating your company’s content role. Marketers are focused on growing audience base, making sales and supporting a brand, while publishers are all about that strong bond with readers. Both are necessary, but you’re going to have far more meaningful reader relationships if you put the story before the metrics.

It all starts with a change in mindset. Call us biased, but we think some of our latest Content Marketing All-Stars put things into perspective best:

  • “Being a brand publisher doesn’t mean you create an e-book. And it’s certainly NOT about making “viral videos.” It’s really a cultural shift away from the ‘campaign brain’ and towards continuous content development, curation and distribution of content that results in conversations, community and ultimately conversion.” — Michael Brenner, SAP
  • “You can’t fix all the problems in the world, but people have great ideas, and if those ideas can be put into action by having more awareness around them, that’s how things change.” — Ken Kaplan, iQ by Intel
  • “We have started creating content that is not about finance or investing but is really about those shared values that the Schwab brand has with our customer’s lifestyles. The purpose of this category is to create conversations on topics that matter to the community and to put our brand into the culture stream.” — Helen Loh, Charles Schwab.

What do you think it takes to be a successful content marketer? Leave us a comment below or join the conversation on Twitter.