Two Content Marketing Experts Weigh In On the Future

July 22, 2015

I had the pleasure of hosting two of the biggest names in content – Jesse Noyes, VP of Product Marketing at Kapost, and Michael Brenner, Head of Strategy at Newscred, on a webinar focused primarily around content marketing. Surprisingly, our favorite topic. We talked about many issues facing the world of content marketing, but most importantly we talked about trends.

What are some trends that you see happening even right now or over the next couple years, and what should marketers be looking for?

Jesse Noyes: I think one of the trends that’s happening in content marketing is just the maturity of content in general. At Kapost we spend a lot of time talking not just about content marketing, but marketing content as a whole. So it’s not just the content marketer that’s producing content within the organization anymore. It never really has been. Product marketing is producing a lot of content; field marketing has a lot of content.

It’s not about turning them into content marketers. It’s about turning those principles that content marketing has really come to embody, things like buyer-centricity, editorial skills, the ability to move the buyer from one stage of their journey to the next without coming off as too pushy or too much of a salesman. That needs to extend into all areas of the business. That means content marketing needs to become more than thought leadership, awareness or lead-gen. Right? It can’t just be those functions. It needs to be more.

When we start to see people who are hired specifically to produce content, really owning the entire customer life-cycle, that’s when we’ll start to see promotion into areas of leadership. So I suspect that we’ll see content maturity happen, as these people get more mature in their careers, more mature in their understanding of the buying cycle. And as a result, I think we’ll start seeing CMOs (leadership) that are actually originally the content marketers rather than just the product marketers.

Demand-gen and Product Marketing Will Converge

On top of that, the other trend that I really see happening is that demand-gen and product marketing are starting to converge in a lot of ways, particularly in the start-up world. It’s usually seen as a silo. What I see a lot of times in startups is that it’s an either/or decision on where they’re going to hire first. It’s either they’re going to hire a product marketer or they’re going to hire a demand-gen marketer because they need to generate demand or they need to clearly define the product market fit.

Right now I’m seeing a lot of convergence of those two fields and content plays a big role in that. Content marketers have the unique skill set to really help both of those groups take the messaging and really build out a demand-gen program that’s closely aligned. Think of it as a bridge between the two.

Michael Brenner: Yeah, I happen to fully agree. However, I have a slightly different perspective because while at SAP I had three jobs. One of them was managing content marketing, which was sort of the point of my role. I felt ownership of the properties that we were utilizing to demonstrate content marketing. And I also felt like an evangelist as well as an owner/operator.

One of the ways that we were able to really scale what we did at SAP was tapping into experts across the company. Some of them were originally established, and then as those established experts continued to gain their authority and their influence, there are a lot of other people that came up to us and said,

“Hey. I’d like to build my brand as well, and I have this experience and this knowledge. Help me understand how we set up a Twitter account.”

I mean, it was basic stuff, and it was purely personal branding. I was happy to do it for people, and I always used to say, “I don’t care if your passion is for cats. Write about cats, because you have the potential to influence other cat lovers who could be SAP customers, partners or employees or investors.” Right? So I think that’s one of the trends that we’re seeing, for sure.

As Jesse said, as we mature, we’re going to start see more and more of these strategies. Like we’re starting to see training for brands who are literally outside of the marketing department, and the sessions are called – “How to create content that people actually want?” or “How to create content when content’s not your job?”. Training for content marketing in other areas of the company is an extremely interesting proposition. It means we are making a difference!

One trend that I think is catching on is visual content, we’ve been talking about it for a long time, and I’ve been saying SlideShare is the biggest missed opportunity in content marketing, and still very few companies are taking advantage of it. Visual content is hard, plain and simple.

And I think we’re seeing brands still struggling. Getting text right is kind of, I don’t want to say “easy,” but it’s sort of fundamental. Extending that into video and infographics in a sustainable, scalable way is still something that brands are struggling with. So that’s a trend I think we’re going to continue to see.

And then if I’m allowed a third…

Kyle Lacy (Moderator):  Yeah, of course. Please.

Michael Brenner: So I think this trend is a little bit of a stretch, and I love Jesse’s thoughts as well, but I think we’re seeing a lot of content being created. Nay, a ton of content being created. And I am not in the camp of “information overload.” In fact, I’m quite the opposite.

I believe that brands still create so much crap, that we have a long way to go before we’re actually creating stuff people want to read.

We need to move the needle from creating things that people don’t want to read to creating content that people want.

And I think that leads to personalization. I do think we’re going to see this need for more personalization. There is a little bit of this going on, but I’m talking about the hyper sort of personalized content. Content for me. Content for you. Content for Kyle. When we can figure out, as brands, how to deliver that in a regular, sustainable way, I think the brands that are ahead on that trend are going to really succeed.

Jesse Noyes: Yeah, I’ll jump in totally on this one, Michael. I couldn’t agree with you more on that third point. It’s an extremely interesting trend happening right now in terms of account-based marketing and what the role of content will be within the organization there trends against that.

So my primary focus is B2B. We sell primarily to B2Bs. Within B2B and the enterprise you’re definitely seeing a lot of marketing departments move to more account-based marketing principles, really targeting the decision-makers and understanding the org chart within that particular group they’re trying to sell to, and content is going to have to come along with it. And it’s not going to be enough to simply be putting together the slide decks and the blog post that talked to the more general interest of those types of buyers. It’s going to have to be very targeted to the specific person. Extremely targeted.

As we see account-based marketing grow, I think you’ll see the content folks, as well as just any marketer who’s producing content, stretched into that more personalization towards the account, at the account level. And I really think this will be focused on building support within the buying process rather than champion selling, so really moving away from, “Hey. Let’s find our champion and then hope that they can help push everything through to all the constituents.”

It’ll be more about, “Let’s find the champion, and the champion helps us identify, very early on, all the people involved in this account that would have a part of the decision process. We’ve got the right materials made for that account, for those types of personas, and we’re ready to serve it to them at scale.” So I think that’s a huge thing I definitely see happening within B2B and the enterprise.