“Content marketing” – using material such as white papers, podcasts and videos to sell to customers – is the latest buzzword as companies try to grab market share in the recovering economy. One common refrain I keep hearing is that marketers should “think like an editor” in deciding what information to give to customers.
The only problem is that some of the very smart people giving this advice have no real idea what an editor does. For example, in a recent interview, CEO Brian Halligan of marketing software vendor HubSpot was quoted as saying:
“So what a newspaper editor would do is he is reading blogs and newspapers all day looking for ideas…so I would spend a reasonable amount of my day looking at my RSS reader looking at different blogs, looking at different articles and when I find something interesting I would promote it by Twitter or Facebook or a LinkedIn group so other people can collaborate around it.”
No real editor would last a week if all he or she did was troll the competition for interesting stories and throw them on the Web for other people to (hopefully) add value. Sure, real editors read “the other paper,” but mostly to beat up their own reporters about scoops they missed. They spend much more time talking to those reporters about what’s going on in their beats, looking for the next great story the competition hasn’t found yet.
As a marketer, your “reporters” are your developers, your salespeople and your product managers. Their “beats” are the technology they work with and the customers they talk to. As an editor you need to find out what they think is new and interesting, and help them turn those ideas and observations into content customers care about.
Yes, you need to redistribute good stuff from blogs, RSS feeds and Twitter to keep yourself visible. But to convince a customer to buy from you and not a competitor, it’s much more important to prove your value by saying something smart and original. That’s what real editors do.
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