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May 28, 2014


From Content Marketing to Meaningful Marketing: Crossing the Chasm

by Tom De Baere

content marketing and social businessCrossing the Chasm is a marketing book by Geoffrey A. Moore that focuses on the specifics of marketing high tech products during the early start up period.

It provides a great analogy for companies aspiring to move their content marketing initiative beyond content marketing, through social business towards meaningful marketing.

In this blog post I’ll  explain why I believe the path to meaningful marketing starts with content marketing, gradually becoming a social business, and then towards meaningful marketing.

The question is how do you move from content marketing, to social business, towards meaningful marketing ?

Content marketing in the broader marketing perspective

Content marketing must be seen as a fully integrated element in the broader marketing perspective, connected with sales, CRM, marketing automation, customer service and a bunch of processes and systems.

In the midst of this broader perspective, content marketing should provide you with a shift in mindset, across the company. It requires you to think beyond selling. And it helps you towards guiding people to buy your products, or use your products.

But stepping into content marketing is not something which happens overnight. The domain itself and the organizational change requirements are too big for any company. It is a gradual process where you start building the basics, and grow and mature as you go.

Maturing your Content Marketing Culture

I’ve seen it on many occasions. Companies first discover content marketing. Some understand what it can do. Some understand the deeper meaning of what content marketing can be, and what it should be for customers.

Initially content marketing starts of as an initiative within the marketing department. But as it requires buy-in from employees, IT, the web team, HR and other departments. The project starts to grow. But also the understanding of how to run your content marketing operations starts to mature.

content marketing maturity










This is where the implementation level of the content marketing initiative is growing or maturing. This maturation process has been extensively described by companies like Altimeter or Toprank, so I won’t go into that.

maturing your content marketing - Altimeter


From a pure content perspective, Scott Brinker @chiefmartec recently wrote an article about the evolution of content towards Marketing Apps. Think of native mobile apps, contests, assessment tools, workbooks, utilities, configurators, interactive whitepapers, guided tours, etc.

So not only the implementation level and understanding of what content marketing means to the business is maturing. Also the sophistication level of the content itself is maturing.

marketing apps

Content marketing sophistication evolution to marketing apps, according to Scott Brinker


Content marketing with social business characteristics

In a recent article on “Social Business Requires Social Employees”, Daniel Newman rightly recognizes the need for social employees to make your content marketing initiative a succes:

Want to know the fastest way to have your business’ social media and content marketing strategies go south?

Create a department for social media and have the planning, execution and metrics live there. In essence build a social media silo and have them handle all of the company’s social profiles and activity without outside involvement.

What Daniel means is that social media and content marketing is not something you plug in into a department. It requires social and content to become a part of your company culture. If have written more about culture in this blog post : 9 Key Change Management Essentials for Epic Content Marketing

So if you want to make your content marketing a success, you also need to become a social business. But what change is required to become a social business?

Requirements for social business

A lot of the requirements to mature your content marketing are also found in the requirements for becoming a social business. 

Edelman Digital nicely plotted the characteristics that are needed for a social business (see image)

characteristics of a social business

Many of these characteristics are already needed in a mature content marketing environment.

So when you mature your content marketing and expand it across the organization, you are slowly becoming a social business.

But what determines the real pivot to social business?

When employees and customers connect, access essential information and share their best ideas, new processes and more authentic engagement start to define your brand and competitive edge.

Social ways of working harness the explosive growth of mobile, cloud and big data, and serve as the foundation for effective employee and customer engagement.

And you need the 3 P’s for that, as nicely shown in the picture from Edelman (more information can be found in this Slideshare presentation on social business from Edelman Digital).

Crossing the Chasm towards Meaningful Marketing

This is the moment where the inevitable Jay Baer from Convince&Convert comes in. He says: “Make your content marketing so useful, people actually would pay for it if you asked them to.”

To me, this is the moment where you understand your customers so well that you  can act upon their their needs beyond what your current products and services offer. This is the moment where you start providing marketing that helps them to be more successful and/or enjoy life more.

To me, that means more than content. It means useful apps, content applications, and marketing apps. It means being available at places where customers need you with relevant services.

  • mobile phone accessory brands providing smartphone charging stations in airports,
  • hotels suggesting good places to eat (and not to promote the dining in their own hotel),
  • astma medication producer delivering air pollution information through a mobile app,
  • stain-removal products-vendor providing a super-fast Q&A service, etc.

And eventually you become so valued in what you do on top of your products and services, that customers are willing to pay for it…

Do you agree that the path to meaningful marketing starts with content marketing?

Warm regards,

Tom De Baere


P.S. If you want to keep following my thoughts on content marketing, social business and meaningful marketing, subscribe to this blog (just drop your email in the form below).