Should we kill marketing?

October 1, 2017

“What if everything we know to be true about marketing is actually what’s holding back our business?”

And in fact – “what if we realize we’ve invested the shipwreck of marketing?”

An interesting way to start a marketing book, eh?

I just finished a fascinating new book, Killing Marketing: How Innovative Businesses are Turning Marketing Cost into Profit, by Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose. Joe and Robert are the creators of the mega-conference Content Marketing World, and Joe has written other books like Content Inc, Epic Content Marketing, and Managing Content Marketing.

Catching a theme?

The core message of their new book is acknowledging that the marketing world, as we have known it since the dawn of the big three (print, radio, and TV), is our past and that marketing doesn’t have to be just a cost center anymore. When done well – brands can actually create a profit center from their marketing efforts. Instead of your marketing requiring additional financial resources – what if it generated new dollars? We’ve all heard the idea that about brands should become media companies. You may not want to take your company quite that far. But wouldn’t you like to make money with your marketing efforts?

Traditional marketing has been primarily advertising – the renting of space on someone else’s channel to earn attention, brand awareness and alter the consumer’s behavior. Even PR falls under that description. Instead of buying an ad, the brand or their agency would pitch their story to the editorial side of the advertising channels. Their goal was to have a story written about them or their offerings that would create the same results as paid advertising would have generated.

Along came the Internet and suddenly consumers found their voice. Until that shift, they’d been our silent audience. But as it became easier to share opinions on message boards, forums, social media channels, websites and review outlets, they got louder and louder.

Initially as a defensive mechanism, brands because using the Internet too – creating content to fight for search engine position and to balance the consumers’ voice. But the brands discovered what probably seems to you as a very simple marketing truth. That when the brands provided valuable content and helpful information, the consumers would create a connection and magnify the brand’s reach by sharing the content and inviting others in.

On a mega-level, this is what Johnson & Johnson has done with What started as a simple extension of their core website, it now reaches more than 45 million parents a month across the globe and offers their content in nine different languages. Eight of every ten U.S. mothers use

Odds are your goals aren’t quite so lofty. Which is awesome because that means you can replicate your version of the results faster and with a smaller level of investment. The Internet and digital content have leveled the playing field. It’s why small brands like have crushed their competition, stolen the market share of much bigger companies and have created a brand that garners incredible amplification of their value from the consumers who love them.

The book isn’t suggesting that you abandon your core business model and become an organization that generates revenue the way a traditional media company does. Nor is it suggesting that you should abandon your paid and earned media efforts. For most organizations, there will always be a benefit to those channels.

But what the authors are suggesting is that businesses today also need a profit-generating owned media strategy that will give you an unfair competitive advantage.

Many people may quickly get to the idea that because it gets easier and cheaper to publish content and we have more and more places to put it – that the value of content will be diminished as the volume increases. If we’re talking about generic content that any business in your industry could produce as easily as you could – that’s probably true.

No one needs one more article of benign content that doesn’t take a position, challenge a stall belief or actually go out of its way to be helpful to the audience. It’s why Google changed their algorithm to reward “quality content” and the channels (like Facebook) changed their game so that brands had to buy eyeballs, even if they were sharing something of value.

So now the outlets that we were counting on to leverage our content began to behave like a traditional media channel. Which is why so many companies have decided that the only way to control the delivery was to control the channel.

And voila…they decided to stop competing on a playing field they didn’t control and instead, they became the channel.

Now, instead of relying on paid and earned media to drive people to make a purchase, the goal is to use those channels to drive the audience to your own content where you can add value immediately so that on the day they actually need to buy the thing you sell – you’re the obvious choice.

The book goes on to outline how a traditional company, who has been marketing in more traditional ways, can turn their marketing focus/efforts on its side and come out with a model of generating revenue from their marketing efforts.

I can remember being in an advertising class (so you know how long ago that was) and the professor was talking about the value of brand equity. He explained that Coca Cola was a publicly traded company and so they had to publish their financials. He put up a slide that showed that the company determined the value of their brand was in excess of a few billion dollars. With a B. In 2013 – the value was $79.2 billion dollars.

What happens when you go beyond the brand and create something like Now you have a tangible asset that subsidizes the growth of your company and audience.

Interesting stuff, eh? And I am just scratching the surface of the book. It goes on to walk you through how to think differently about your marketing and begin to re-tool your efforts to this new model.

As with anything Joe and Robert do – I’m a fan. I think they’re insightful thinkers who have walked out what they teach (check out the Content Marketing Institute site) and continue to refine their viewpoint as things evolve.

Check out the book. Re-think your plan for 2018. Begin to build your channel and the equity it can bring your organization.


Are you ready to podcast?

April 7, 2016

podcastingAccording to wikipedia a podcast is a collection of digital media files distributed over the internet using syndication feeds for playback on portable media players and personal computers.

Here’s my definition. A podcast is an incredible marketing tool and a great way to generate new leads for your business. It can enhance your marketing in many ways. People consume podcasts in a big way.

Apple reports over a billion subscriptions to podcasts via iTunes and they’re hardly the only access point. It’s estimated that over 31 million Americans are regular podcast listeners.

Branding: An effective podcast series is an excellent way to reach our generation’s tech-savvy consumers. Podcasts can be used to position your company as an industry leader, assuming your content is relevant and timely for your target audience.

Lead Generation & Lead Nurturing: These seem to be buzzwords for the coming year. People are thinking more and more about their sales cycle and how to keep moving prospects closer to the sale. Podcasts are a smart way to keep prospects engaged with your brand while you earn their trust by demonstrating your expertise.

External Communications: No matter who you need to stay in touch with — investors, board members, the media, industry pundits, or your current customers, a podcast is a simple and interesting way to do that.

Website Content Improvements: Want your website to be seen as an important resource? Adding content like podcasts will not only add stickiness to your site, but Google and the other search engines will love that you’ve got a mix of media on your site.

If those benefits have you thinking that it might not be a bad plan to think about adding a podcast series to your marketing efforts, then stay with me. I want to give you some tips on attracting and keeping an audience. But even if you follow all of these suggestions, you’re going to have to be a little patient. This isn’t a marketing tactic that you try once or twice and then figure it didn’t work.

Don’t even start this if you aren’t going to give it a good year to take seed and grow. Here are a few ways to help make that happen.

Keep it Short: Most people will have an attention span of 15-30 minutes at the most for any given topic. Don’t be afraid to be brief. Even a 5-10 minute podcast can be very effective. One way to do that is to remember – one podcast, one key message.

Use MP3 for your file format: Most rich media players can play an MP3 formatted file. You can offer other options as well, as long as MP3 is there.

Let Them Subscribe: Don’t count on your audiences continually coming back to your site. Give them subscription options so every time you produce new content, they receive it automatically.

Teach, Don’t Sell: I know this is tough, but if your podcast is a sales speech, no one will stick with you. If you think about what you could teach your prospects and give them that education freely, they’ll gladly endure a little information about your product or service.

Putting together a podcast series does take some effort. But it can yield incredible results too. You can use the same podcast with many different audiences and you can even slice and dice some of the content into blog posts, sales material and other marketing tools. Why not give it a try?