I attended the Social CRM Summit earlier this year, and the presenter – Paul Greenberg, who is generally credited with inventing the category – said (basically): People can argue all they want about the definition of social CRM, but I am through discussing it.  I am happy with the definition.

It was great.  This social media era is all about a faux “conversation.”  The notion that anyone is actually conversing on Twitter, for example, is laughable.  It’s dueling monologues.

Anyway, I’m channeling Paul’s unapologetic comment now.  You see, one of the more debated topics in marketing is content marketing.  People define it in all sorts of ways.  Some say it’s synonymous with “inbound marketing” (though I am sure the godfathers of that category, HubSpot wunderkinds Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, would object to the conflation).  The Wikipedia definition initially struck me as excessively broad … that is, until I read that content marketing firm Junta42 said content marketing is tantamount to “custom publishing, custom media, customer media, customer publishing, member media, private media, branded content, corporate media, corporate publishing, corporate journalism and branded media.”  (In the firm’s defense, they supply a succinct definition after that exhaustive list.)

So what is content marketing?  For those, like me, who are partial to visual learning, I say it’s this infographic, dubbed The Content Grid:

 

The_content_grid

… and I am happy with this definition.

There is something both thrilling and humbling about taking your best work, undressing it of all commercial value, and giving it away for free.  But I am beginning to think the thrill outweighs the humility, because for the second time this week, I am giving away a major resource to anyone who wants to repurpose it for his own gain. 

Today’s offer is the “Eloqua Social Media Playbook,” a 10-platform, 42-page guide to conducting business (and conducting yourself) on the social Web. Major credit goes out to two companies.  JESS3 for all of their help in creating the Playbook (along with their vital role in Monday’s announcement: The Content Grid) and Eloqua, for having the guts and foresight to pay me to develop materials, and then give them away on faith.

Here’s a one-page sample:

Facebook_sop

I joined Eloqua from BzzAgent and, for a moment (ok for a couple months) thought: “Ut oh.  This ‘b-to-b stuff’ is, by comparison, kinda boring.”  But then I figured: If it’s boring for me, then it must be really dull for those who have been at it forever.  Why not try to make it less boring?

Here’s an example of less boring.

Eloqua_Grande_Guide_Sales_Enablement.pdf Download this file

We took an important — but not exactly sexy — topic (sales enablement) and used design, metaphor and language to make it compelling.  Yet more evidence that “design = content”.

If I’ve learned one new lesson as a result of my gushy relationship with JESS3 it’s this: The future PR professional will need to have the ability to understand the role design plays in the consumption and spread of information. PR people won’t need to be designers per se, but they will absolutely have to anticipate the type of visuals their audience will embrace and guide designers to produce it.

Womma_speaker

This year’s WOMMA Summit is going to be remarkable.  Josh Bernoff, Forrester superthinker and co-author of my favorite new business book, Empowered, is keynoting.  So is one of the most influential guys on the social Web, Altimeter Group’s Jeremiah Owyang.  Great lineup.  Thanks to the help of my PR firm, SHIFT Communications, and the great work of my partner, Leslie Bradshaw of JESS3, I am going to present on content marketing.  Below is the proposal one of the most delightful people in PR, Abby Snyder, submitted on my and Leslie’s behalf.

2010 WOMMA Submission

 3 Take Aways:

 

  1. What types of content spreads most effectively throughout the social Web (hint: you might already have this content and not even know it)
  2. Effective content marketing & social media techniques that allow B2B companies to generate awareness (views, traffic, downloads) and leads (demos, forms)
  3. How to keep the wheels turning once you have social media traction

Description:

This session will explore how a 10-year old B2B SaaS compan leveraged shareable social content to reposition itself as a future-forward marketing organization.

 

Eloqua created the marketing automation category, and, in doing so, became the largest, most recognized player in the space.  The company’s success earned the attention of industry insiders across the marketing automation, email and CRM sectors, but the attention of broader marketing influencers remained elusive. Further, Eloqua recently found itself competing against a new wave of marketers – companies that are inherently social media savvy, content-driven and fast-moving. 

 

Taking these challenges head on, Eloqua started creating, publishing and inducing the spread of remarkable content.  The company teamed with design firm JESS3 and converted two internal resources – The Content Grid infographic and Social Media Playbook e-book – into sharable assets, and then launched a social marketing campaign that urged observers to “steal” the valuable content.    

 

Quantitative results are below, but social media A-lister Scott Monty summarized the impact and importance of Eloqua’s Social Media Playbook when he wrote, “…if I had this available to me some four years ago when I started this site, I would have been much smarter much more quickly.  [It’s] filled with exactly the kind of material that will bring you and your employees up to speed on social media.”

 

Eloqua saw results in awareness:

  • 12,000 visitors to Eloqua’s brand new blog 
  • 1,500+ tweets
  • 30,000+ views/downloads
  • 50 blog posts, many from the AdAge Power 150
  • Applause from influencers including Scott Monty, Jeffrey Hayzlett, Jeremiah Owyang, Jennifer Aaker, David Armano and Sarah Evans

… and leading purchase indicators:

  • 43% increase in traffic to the corporate website
  • 21% increase in demo views, which have the highest conversion rate
  • 12% increase in page views on Eloqua.com
  • 14% decrease in “bounces” from Eloqua.com

 Eloqua recognizes relationships are built over time.  To deepen relationships forged through its initial content marketing campaign, Eloqua engaged its supporters by publicly acknowledging every blog post and comment, inviting supporters and critics alike to participate in future versions of The Content Grid, and listing everyone who blogged or tweeted in a public “thank you” blog post.

 

Bios:

Joe Chernov is the Director of Content for Eloqua, a marketing automation software provider.  In this role, Joe leads all public relations, analyst relations and social media activities.  Joe is also a co-chair of WOMMA member ethics panel and an advisory board member at CitySquares.com.

 

Prior to joining Eloqua, Joe was VP of Communications and Associate VP of Marketing for BzzAgent, a word-of-mouth marketing and media firm in Boston.  Joe was also VP of Client Services for Upper Right PR where he “insourced” public relations service for marketing, technology and manufacturing companies. 

 

Leslie Bradshaw serves as the President and Director of Operations of JESS3, where she has helped grow the Company’s client base, service offerings and revenues over the last four years as the co-founder along with her partner in crime, Jesse Thomas.  Prior to her role at JESS3, Leslie was the Director of Engagement at New Media Strategies and the Director of New Media at the McLaughlin Group TV show.  Her passions lie in working with social technologies to develop and execute award-winning strategies for Fortune 500 companies, non-profits, high-profile individuals and advocacy groups.