“Content marketing” has been part of the savvy marketer’s vocabulary for years. It’s touted as the savior for any marketing plan – increase website traffic, improve conversion rates, become a market leader! Yet, many who embark on the journey to launch their content marketing strategies fail to achieve these goals: Web traffic is flat (or, horrifyingly, lower); leads and sales aren’t converting; and market share is lost to the new kid on the block.
Is it simply that content marketing is the snake oil solution to all that ails a languishing brand? Not so…after all, someone’s getting those results promised on the label. No, the more likely scenario is that many marketers are missing one of two secret ingredients: either the Thought Leader or the Do Leader.
A few months ago, I came across this excellent infographic (below), which defined the role of the “do leader” in contrast to the more well-known “thought leader.” It was crafted by MindJet, a collaborative work management software company. I was struck with the thought that successful content marketing must also rely on these same two contrasting roles – seemingly at odds personalities, but each one side of the same coin.
The thought leader is typically seen as the rock star. This guru drives the creative process that is integral to any content marketing program…specifically, creating content. And not just any content, but interesting content.
The content you create has to be compelling to your future and existing customers. It must be provoking, provide validation for them to share upstream, and foster kinship with your brand. For some brands, this may seem like an easy task – particularly for B2C or trendy products. But when you sell something as dry as ERP software, or you’re educating consumers about retirement financing, the task requires considerable skill and dedication.
Many companies fail to dedicate resources to their content marketing program. “You mean I’m paying someone to sit around just to think about my industry, write about it and present on it?” a CMO might say. Yes, that is precisely what I’m suggesting. Or better yet, identify multiple thought leaders within your organization and allow them the time to generate and advance their ideas. If you want to truly reap the benefits of your content marketing program, thought leadership must become a way of life in your organization.
The “do” leaders are often overlooked. These are the people in the background, creating opportunities for the thought leader to shine.
The old philosophical conundrum comes to mind: “If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” Your thought leaders can espouse the most cutting-edge corporate positioning and philosophies – but if no one hears, reads or sees what they have to say, it’s like silence in the forest.
The do leader must effectively map out communications plans, keeping teams honest on timelines, meeting deadlines and budgets. The do leader will identify outlets for content – blogs, videos, webinars, events, emails, social networks, editorials, infographics, reports and more. While the do leader may not typically be in the spotlight, this role is critical to setting milestones, creating plans for execution, and measuring and refining success.
If your content marketing program isn’t giving you the results you’d hoped, look at which of these two roles may be lacking. Is your content actually compelling? Do you have a plan for distribution of those captivating thoughts? It’s time to regroup and ensure you’re working the program from both angles.