Content Marketing Planning Tips, Lessons Learned From NASDAQ's Josh Machiz, Heinz Marketing & More Live

By Leah Betancourt

As companies revisit their content marketing workflows to get the most out of their content, many are still striving to hit that sweet spot of what works.

Some marketing content tips -- such as having a plan and measurements in place to determine ROI -- are obvious. Some are not. We posed the topic of content marketing lessons learned to an expert panel to discuss on Aug. 20. 

We asked Josh Machiz, Director of Integrated Marketing at NASDAQ; Shelly Bowen, Principal Content Strategist at Pybop LLCAmanda Clark, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Grammar Chic Inc; Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing Inc.; and Marie Alonso, a content branding and social media strategist at Miles Technologies 
to share what they've learned about content marketing.

They all agreed that there is incredible growth in content marketing, and now companies have a greater understanding of what content marketing is and what makes it successful. Here are five key points from the chat:

1. Marketers have work to do with creating and connecting value to content. 

"Sometimes the value is immediately apparent and connected.
But more often it's a long-tail effort that you see over time. You need to have a baseline and watch for growth toward the established objective,” said Shelly Bowen. 

The NASDAQ Team Completes the ALS #IceBucketChallenge in Times Square
by NASDAQ via YouTube

"There's a huge difference between creating value and measuring that value.
I believe content marketers are getting smarter at what they're doing, and better typing content to buyer's journey and all that. But unless they can start measuring that cause and effect, it will be increasingly difficult to justify additional investments moving forward,” said Matt Heinz. 

"Content value, we're talking ROI, lead generation, corporate elevation via thought leadership, inbound marketing success, it's a loaded bag! The thing is, the personality of the CMO, the B2B marketer, for example. I have seen some very analytical minds approach content strategy and success with a focus on lead generation, business mandates -- making content perform. Others take a more content strategy approach, brand publishing, social storytelling, content curation. It's really a combination of these approaches -- these personalities -- that creates the best opportunities,” said Marie Alonso. 

"I also think that there needs to be a departure from the mindset that content production is simply a means to an end, that all content is created equal and that simply posting something, no matter if it is valuable to the audience or not, is enough to drive sales and build loyalty. Content marketing really needs to be thought of as a living, breathing thing -- it changes as company goals morph and evolve,” said Amanda Clark.

2. Efforts need to be made to help change companies' mindsets when it comes to the content marketing workflow. 

"All marketers need to put on a new hat and look back at the plethora of information they have generated in house and how they can transform that into content that they can use to educate their customers in an editorialized digestible form," said Josh Machiz

"What better way to build brand ambassadors and a socially engaged team, one that can carry a company's messaging and philosophy into other key areas of client outreach and communications," said Marie Alonso

"There's always a shift in thinking while creating the content strategy between internal experience/POV/opinion and looking at what the target audience needs/wants," said Shelly Bowen

3. Several components make content marketing work well. 

"I have learned that it is all related, content marketing is connected inherently to PR, social media, event marketing. It takes a cross-platform approach to create and sustain an engaging content campaign. You need to leverage all appropriate content tools and platforms,” said Marie Alonso.

"I've learned that you don't have to generate it all on your own. I focus on collaborating with our partners for content generation where they can be the experts and our brand serves as the educational partner," said Josh Machiz.

"I've learned that it’s not about doing what everyone else is doing -- it’s about creating something new that consumers cannot find anywhere else. I often use a Netflix analogy when talking about content marketing. Netflix used to be a platform that you could go to watch movies or TV shows -- the problem here is that in this curation model (that’s exactly what they were doing, curating the content of others), there were other companies that sprung up that did the exact same thing. Nothing about this was unique. A consumer could go to Netflix, or they could go to Hulu Plus, etc. So what Netflix did was start creating original content that was owned by them, i.e House of Cards, Orange is the New Black … serious hit shows. This made people choose Netflix over other curation competitors. This is what a successful content marketing strategy should do -- increase loyalty because people know they have to come to YOU to find the original, creative content or information they are searching for. This means you have to think creatively and outside of the box -- not just do what a competitor is doing on Facebook, etc.," said Amanda Clark.

4. Experts shared examples of content marketing done well.  

Celebrate #NationalDogDay by donating to your local animal shelter or ASPCA (+ your donation is #tax deductible!).
by TurboTax via Facebook
"Social media is powerful, just look at the ice bucket challenge! What this demonstrates is, each day, there are opportunities for businesses to embrace creativity and messaging - it doesn't have to be with an ice bucket challenge. Just something that is uniform, across social platforms, that feeds and supports overall branding! They need to engage!" said Marie Alonso.

"Here's a good example of B2B content marketing: GoToMeeting (@GoToMeeting) on Twitter is a great example of content marketing done well. Let’s face it—talking about their core product offering, can get boring pretty fast. The company generally talks about subjects related to working together, workplace productivity, etc.-- themes that connect with their core business audience. It’s a great way to stay active in a client’s Twitter feed, stay interesting, and keep someone engaging with you. They are curating and creating content related to their product offering, without shoving it down their audience’s throat and selling non-stop," said Amanda Clark

"Some brands -- like Intuit's TurboTax -- are fabulous with social media. Just mention their brand and you'll get a response. A nice, conversational response from a person. Having a group of people who are responsible for the social media initiative can really help bring the whole organization on board, so social media is used appropriately (and without fear). Thankfully, the days of assigning all social media to an intern are going away!" said Shelly Bowen.

5. Content marketing gone bad can typically be avoided with proper planning, having a targeted strategy, knowing your audience and what their needs are.  

"A B2C disaster in 2013 came in the form of Great Lakes, Student Loan Company. They sent out an infographic that pretty much suggested the only way not to default on your student loans was to visit the company's social media channels.You shouldn’t be so blatant in trying to get people to pay attention to your social accounts -- this usually inspires the opposite reaction from what you were hoping to garner," said Amanda Clark.

"Then there was Kenneth Cole. ...Yes, they were looking to sell their spring collection in 2011… but they were also piggybacking off of the political turmoil in Egypt at the time. Moreover, it came from the chairman, indicative by the “KC” at the end of the Tweet, himself. The company took it down and apologized. The lesson here is that humor doesn’t work if you are trying to newsjack something that is viewed as contentious," said Amanda Clark.

"I think its important that content marketers focus on telling a story and educating people on topics their brands are experts in and that they tie back to the business in some way (the connections don't need to be so obvious). I think there are still many simple mistakes that people are still making in content marketing especially rehashing information from others that is already available and the absolute worst: trying to pass an advertisement off as content marketing. People hate to be tricked at the end of an article/post to find out it was an ad," said Josh Machiz

"One way is to be OPEN! To be open to new platforms, existing platforms and to carry a theme and focus to content drives in a cross-platform manner. Being open means being receptive to trying new things and recognizing what others are doing well, even if some of those "others" are not necessarily BUSINESS entities or persons, but still strong content generators!" said Marie Alonso.

No matter what tools or platform you’re using for content marketing, you are ultimately still connecting with people. Creating great content is just another way to reach people in a way that builds relationships rather than hard-selling them with an outright sales pitch. 

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