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From the Trenches

What Did 2014 Teach You About Content Marketing?

Yvonne Lyons | January 15, 2015
What I Learned in 2014

The end of one year and the beginning of the next always brings lots of posts about trends and predictions for what might be. Those are important to pay attention to, because as marketers, we need to be ahead of the curve, don’t we? But possibly more important than trying to understand what is coming, is trying to learn from our experiences. Have you looked back at what you learned in 2014? Maybe there were some mistakes or marketing misses. Doesn’t mean you can’t learn from them. And maybe there were some big successes. What can you do to build on those for this new year?

I asked some of the folks at Right Source Marketing about one key thing that they learned in 2014 that they felt was important to share and what it meant for the upcoming year. Here is what they offered:

Will Davis, Chief Marketing Technology Officer & Managing Partner:

My most important takeaway from 2014 is that companies continue to invest in technology as a “magic bullet” marketing solution, without thinking through all of the components needed to drive success. I thought everyone would get better at this, but far too many companies spend on tools like marketing automation with no real plan for how they are going to use them, who is going to manage them, and the strategy and content to make them run. Step 1, license software, Step 3 become billionaire!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a major proponent of marketing automation, but without planning and budgeting for all the pieces to make it work right, it’s a waste of money… and that’s not the software’s fault.

No surprise then that in 2015, I believe smart marketers will continue to start with a plan, look at marketing technology as a very powerful part of that plan, but make sure they think through the strategy, process, content, and people necessary to get the desired results.

Dave Toliver, Strategic Account Director:

This year, remember that your real-life, recent experiences can inform your content. Over the course of the past year, many of our clients have told me that one of their biggest concerns is coming up with ideas for new content. This may sound obvious, but your content should, to an extent, be driven by what your clients and/or prospects want from you.

One of the easiest places to find ideas is by thinking through your last client or prospect conversation. Whether you’re a services firm like Right Source, a B2B tech company, or a consumer products company, your clients or prospective clients always have questions about you, your products/services, or specifically how your company handles a certain task versus how a competitor might. Has a prospect recently questioned how you’re different than a competitor, or why your product/service is more expensive? Start writing, in detail, what sets you apart from other businesses like yours. By thinking about conversations you have every day, whether with long-time clients or prospects who just met you, you’ll never run out of questions to be answered—questions that can be answered through one-to-one contact, sure, but also via content.

Michael Teitelbaum, Chief Growth Officer & Manager Partner:

One-to-one marketing is highly effective. No, that is not what I learned this past year. That knowledge has been with me since my early days in direct mail marketing. What I learned from experience this past year is that, when executing against a strategic marketing plan, new technologies like marketing automation can deliver personalized messages that appear as one-to-one marketing. By delivering customized email messages based on prospects’ known interests, I had clients experiencing 70 percent open rates, 30 percent click-through rates, and conversions that far exceeded anything accomplished with typical broadcast emails.

Mike Sweeney, Chief Content Officer & Managing Partner:

There was a huge focus on content marketing planning in 2014, so I’d say I learned a lot about what people don’t do where planning is concerned. I think that choosing your ‘flavor’ of content marketing is an often-missed yet critical piece of content marketing planning. You need to know why you’re in the content marketing game to begin with, so you can build your plan to accommodate that, and paint a clear picture of what success looks like. Don’t just buy into the broad arguments for content marketing, buy into the arguments that detail how it will improve your business.

Plan for 2015, but learn from the successes and failures of 2014. What did you learn in 2014 that will make a difference in the upcoming year? Let us know in the comments below. And if you haven’t started your content marketing plan for 2015, get going with help from our new eBook, “Build Your Content Marketing Plan: A 10-Step Guide.”

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About Yvonne Lyons:

Yvonne Lyons is Right Source’s vice president of creative services, overseeing content and design for all of our clients. She ensures that all creative produced at Right Source is of the highest quality and is aligned with our clients’ business strategy and goals. Yvonne received a bachelor’s degree from the Johns Hopkins University in writing and literature and has more than 20 years of experience in marketing, branding, and communications.