[Book Review] A Thought-Provoking Guide to Creating a Successful Content Marketing Strategy

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 “Your content will never provide competitive advantage. But your content strategy just might.”

Robert Rose, Content Marketing Strategy

Source:  Kogan Page

Content marketing has become a core ingredient of the B2B marketing mix over the past two decades. Today, virtually all B2B companies use content marketing in some form.

But despite this widespread use, many B2B marketers aren’t satisfied with the performance of their content marketing programs. In the 2022 edition of the content marketing survey by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, only 29% of the B2B respondents said their organization was extremely or very successful with content marketing. 

One key to effective content marketing is having a well-designed content marketing strategy. In the 2022 CMI/MarketingProfs survey, 64% of the “most successful” respondents reported having a documented content marketing strategy. Only 19% of the “least successful” respondents said they had a documented strategy.*

Because having a sound strategy is so critical to content marketing success, Robert Rose’s new book is a must-read for marketers. Content Marketing Strategy:  Harness the Power of Your Brand’s Voice (Kogan Page, 2023) provides an authoritative guide to the formulation of an effective content marketing strategy.

Robert Rose is the Chief Strategy Advisor of the Content Marketing Institute and the CEO and Chief Strategy Officer of The Content Advisory, a content marketing consulting firm. He has been working in marketing and content strategy for nearly 30 years.

What’s In the Book

As its title suggests, Content Marketing Strategy is about the strategic management of content marketing. More specifically, the book describes a process that marketing leaders can use to manage content marketing as a core business function that requires a full-fledged business strategy.

Robert Rose clearly spells out his perspective on the topic of content marketing strategy in the quotation shown above and in the Introduction of the book where he writes that marketing needs to operate as a media company and that the primary function of marketing is to “. . . create valuable experiential media-driven products for audiences that can be monetized in several ways . . .” (Emphasis in original)

In Chapter 1 of the book, Rose echoes Michael Porter’s thinking on strategy when he defines content marketing strategy as “. . . a marketing discipline that is the sum of all the activities required to enable a business to consistently communicate in a way that creates tangible value for target audiences. It is what enables a brand to have not only a voice but also something to say that is worth listening to.”

Rose uses Chapter 2 to introduce the fundamental elements of a successful content marketing strategy. He argues that an effective strategy has three pillars – Communication, Experiences, and Operations. Then, he goes on to write that these three pillars encompass five core categories of activities, which he labels purpose, model, frame, value, and audience.

In Chapters 3-8 of the book, Rose discusses each of these five categories of activities in detail. For example, he covers purpose in Chapter 3 (“Designing a Strategic Purpose”), model in Chapter 4 (“The Content Marketing Operating Model”), and audience in Chapter 5 (“Understanding Audiences”).

In Chapter 9, Rose describes how marketing leaders and their teams can formulate a content marketing strategy that incorporates the principles and frameworks he discussed earlier in the book. Rose called this process “story mapping,” and it includes four steps.

  1. Identify all the conditions that must exist for your content marketing effort to be successful.
  2. Identify all the obstacles that could prevent the Step 1 conditions from existing.
  3. Determine which of the Step 1 conditions are absolutely essential and which of the Step 2 obstacles are “showstoppers.”
  4. Specify when the Step 1 conditions will be accomplished.

My Take

The widespread popularity of content marketing has spawned an impressive volume of literature. Yesterday, I conducted a search at Amazon using the term “content marketing strategy.” I found 51 books having that term in the title or subtitle, and I stopped counting after only four pages of search results.

Many of these books probably contain useful information and insights. However, if you want to better understand how to manage content marketing as a strategic business function – and why that approach is critical for successful content marketing – you should put Content Marketing Strategy near the top of your reading list.

Robert Rose can speak authoritatively about content marketing. In his position with the Content Marketing Institute and as a consultant, Rose has had a front-row seat to observe the evolution of content marketing for more than a decade. He’s seen what does and doesn’t work, and he describes several of these experiences in his book.

Content Marketing Strategy is well-organized and clearly written. The book isn’t exactly “light reading,” but Rose’s writing style makes the content approachable and easy to understand. He also includes several illustrations in the book, and these illustrations make it easier for readers to comprehend some of Rose’s most important concepts.

B2B marketers can easily find books, white papers, ebooks, and other resources about content marketing. Robert Rose’s book is one of the most thoughtful and thought-provoking books I’ve encountered on this vitally important topic. I strongly recommend it.

* The “most successful” respondents were those who said their organization was extremely or very successful with content marketing. The “least successful” respondents were those who characterized their organization’s content marketing efforts as minimally or not at all successful.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

David Dodd
David Dodd is a B2B business and marketing strategist, author, and marketing content developer. He works with companies to develop and implement marketing strategies and programs that use compelling content to convert prospects into buyers.

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