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The Business Model of Content Marketing

Presented by: Robert Rose, Chief Strategy Officer, The Content Advisory

Creating content that aligns with our business strategy is more challenging than ever. We have to develop content that competes not only with competitors but for the fragmented attention of audiences across every type of media channel. Content marketing is a strategic business activity that marketers perform. Let's reboot the notion of what creating and measuring content marketing truly is in 2019, make the new strategic business case for content marketing, and outline the content strategy plan.

Key Points

  • Learn the four business models of strategic content, and how you should be optimizing your operational approach to content marketing.
  • Devise a framework designed to measure audiences as a business asset instead of simple transactions like visits or downloads.
  • Successful examples of companies that are utilizing the approach of owned media content to drive strategic value for their business

Session Notes

Robert brought fun to what would seem like a rigid presentation. Through references to pop culture, the history of ABM and a warm sense of humor, he got the audience excited to learn more about creating content that aligns with a business strategy.

Measurement of classic marketing and advertising has to be related to cost

  • We’re rewarded as marketers with how efficient we make that measurement
  • We look at the cost per acquisition, cost per customer, cost per lead, cost per thousand
  • We are rewarded with how many people we can push through funds
  • The content market creates strategic value differently
  • Broadcast audience = anticipated audience
  • Leads to visitors (demand generation, cost per thousand)
  • Leads to shoppers (lead nurturing, cost per lead)
  • Leads to customers (sales, cost per customer)
  • Leads to advocates (upsell loyalty, retention cost)
  • Engaged audience (valuable) = earn trust = addressable = evolve trust/modeled = grow trust (measured)
  • We’re building an engaged group we can reach on our choosing and engage as we wish and we can draw multiple lines of value from this
  • Not all will buy from usa vast majority won'tbut this doesn't mean the rest don't have value

Create strategic value by monetizing audiences in different ways:

  • There are more of them, so they more deeply support goals that we may have

Why is this hard?

  • The challenge in marketing right now and content specifically is that half of us are building markets, trying to be an on-demand content vending machine for organizations. That can’t scale because we’re too busy creating content to scale
  • 35% have a documented strategy wherein content is everyone’s job
  • 25% of businesses we see have a commitment to a content strategy
  • 56% are unsure they have an ROI. They are unsure of what success looks like
  • 90% who are succeeding are creating owned media platforms that monetize audience and put their audience’s need for content and building trust at the forefront of their strategy.

There is no operating model for content
When there's no purposeful strategy behind it, we don't know what we’re measuring
Thus, the fact is that we’re just gonna default to “making the logo pop”

“Tell me how you will measure me, and I will tell you how I will behave. If you measure in an illogical way, do not complain about illogical behavior.” — Eli Goldratt

Content marketing is much more akin to product marketing and product management than it is to campaign-based marketing. It’s not more efficient, it’s more difficult and takes longer.

We have to figure out what is our business model of content.

Business Model of Content

  • Are we supporting an internal mode (which is support functions)? Or the external mode of building audiences and modifying?
  • Detail mental strategy? Or is it completely integrated as a business strategy?

Player Model

  • Trying to contribute content in the business
  • The on-demand vending machine of content

Performer Model

  • We are actually creating content strategically for building audiences

Processor Model

  • You're producing content as a surge to the rest of the organization

Platform Model

  • Content is profitable in and of itself
  • Content can generate revenue
  • Most of us are stuck in one or two of these models
  • A mix of all of these things is where we want to be
  • Figuring out how we make content a strategic function that operates as much as we need in each of these four models
  • Myths vs facts - a product not a project, it's not more efficient, increasing the strategic value

Examples of Each Model:

Performer Model example:

  • Career advice centre
  • Wonderful publication (accounts for 20% of their traffic)
  • Engages audience

Platform Model example: Arrow Electronics

  • Platforms that operate independently to engage audiences and enhance strategic value
  • Spent the last few years acquiring electrical engineering magazines in their space
  • Worked to preserve their total addressable market to keep it imaginative, viable and build new things
  • Market expense is minimal

Processor Model example: 3M

  • Enabling an integrated approach to stats, exemplar guidelines and approaches to content
  • 3M’s content strategy team provides training and centralized standards for approaching content
  • The whole goal is to create a centralized team that goes from region to product to vertical
  • They create and activate their own content
  • Set standards and guidelines

The State of Things Now

Netflix and Skills

  • Most common in nascent programs
  • Random practitioners serving various parts of the business
  • On-demand content vending machine
  • Can’t do much with skills, too occupied with producing content

Exiles of Main Street

  • Brand journalists separated away, maintaining platforms
  • What purpose are they serving, though?
  • Stuck between both groups
  • Trying to build a blog/journalism group

Seoul Train

  • Serves as a human-machine that processes content, created by the business
  • Optimizes it for various channels (SEO, email, etc).
  • Providing SEO and content only

Hubs and Pokes

  • Have a blog, research center
  • One or multiple groups have a publication, but are they connected to marketing?
  • Are these pubs just a collection of assets?
  • Everyone is poked for content

Once the model is found, there’s the ability to measure what you’re doing.

There are five things that we typically measure in (and they each can be attributed to the different models):


  • Quantity of Content Consumed
    • Internal consumers as consumers of content
  • Efficiency in Content Creation
    • Cost efficiencies in content creation, production, and reuse of assets across the enterprise Contribution Towards Campaigns
      • Assistance with the brand, marketing, sales, or corporate communications campaigns
        • Example: Secure Mart, a security company with a set of blogs that are segmented by audience Content for each audience is different
  • Measure themselves based on their buyers


  • More, faster leads
    • Increase lead velocity or quantity by using content to help engage or educate?
  • Better SEO/organic traffic
    • Decrease your cost per visitor or increase efficiency in drawing in more organic traffic?
  • Higher shopping cart value
    • Personalize catalog or offerings better using content consumption as a signal for purchase
    • Example:
      • Career advice centre


  • Making us a smarter organization
  • As we build the business model, we integrate them in a way where they can be measured Looking at content experiences as products as engaging ways to at audiences
  • Treat audiences as if they're buying something from us - looking at them as a subscriber
  • From this, you can get insight
  • Example: Johnson and Johnson with
  • World’s largest focus group
  • They get lots of data from parents via the website, get feedback on products


  • Creating better customers
  • How do we take advantage of the fact that we have a customer and we can create better experiences with them?
  • Teach them to be more valuable customers (with word of mouth)?

Revenue opportunities

  • Can you ask for revenue for your content to help offset its costs?

Offset costs on marketing

  • Can you employ “brandscaping” to have partners help you decrease costs for content programs?

Partnership opportunities

  • Are there non-competitive partners where your content can sit and be a replacement for paid ads?
  • Ex: Flip My Phone - a software company with blog, podcasts, events
    • Sponsors helped mitigate costs to hold events
  • Content and what we do with content is the most important function in our business
  • What we do with content is arguably the most important function in the business.
  • Creating trust is a hugely powerful thing.
  • We have conflated the idea of attention which we have plenty of and trust which we don't have much of these days. The democratization of distrust has lead to major decreases in the trust from consumers over the last 50 years

Key Takeaways

  • Trust has declined
  • Facts are commodities—we will not win on facts alone, we have to create belief and trust
  • We have conflated the idea of attention, which we have plenty of, and trust which we don't have much of these days