Over the past several years, content marketing has been an undeniable force for social brands. The rules of the game may be constantly evolving, but the fundamental premise remains the same: provide social prospects with content that is both useful and engaging, and they will reward you with sales, message amplification, or both.

But in a marketing field where the rules are constantly changing, where the strategies for crafting compelling content sometimes feel like they’re changing from week to week, how can we prepare marketers interested in throwing their hats into the content ring?

This question was very much on my mind when I conducted a content marketing workshop for marketing and PR professionals at Columbia College in Columbia, Missouri.  The workshop, which was a delightful blend of in-person and live-streaming attendees, was designed with a variety of goals in mind:

  • Provide an introduction to content marketing
  • Define terms, discuss challenges, and explore opportunities
  • Examine cases, exercises, discussions, content sourcing models, syndication, ROI, and persona development
  • Fuel content marketing efforts via a proprietary content marketing strategy development blueprint

Obviously, this was an ambitious agenda to dive into in one session, but my audience had done its homework ahead of time and was more than prepared to tackle each element head-on. I’ve come to learn that a progressive marketing philosophy and a tireless work ethic are trademarks of Columbia College, a delightful school in the Midwest with 18 campuses and a large—and-growing—digital footprint. It was my first trip to Missouri, and I came away with a very positive impression of this wonderful community and the great people at the college.

And here’s why: While it’s true that content marketing best practices may be evolving, an organizational commitment to meeting these challenges—eventually learning to predict trends and drive the conversation—strikes me as the most proactive way to stay ahead of the curve. Content marketing, in this way, is much more than a task or strategy; it’s a mindset. Because of this, it requires organizational commitment and support. In social business, the marketers don’t go it alone; they must support and be supported by their fellow social employees.

For this reason, the one-day workshop at Columbia College points to the enormous opportunity for colleges and universities who commit to developing a content marketing strategy. What better arena than a college for building a marketing infrastructure that leads and teaches by example? The professionals at Columbia truly get content marketing’s value as a way to differentiate their college in a crowded, competitive marketplace.

Here’s what Brenda Myers, Senior Director of Content and Direct Marketing

Columbia College, had to say about the experience:

“The one-day workshop Mark provided for the Marketing and Public Relations teams at Columbia College was exactly what we needed to get everyone on the same page with content marketing and social media. Mark’s presentation style was well received, as was the expert information he shared. The team especially enjoyed the videos, examples, and exercises, which helped keep the group engaged while driving key points home. He also tailored the presentation to our very specific needs, which was recognized by all and much appreciated. Thanks Mark for providing us the guidance we needed to develop and implement a cross-departmental content marketing program for Columbia College.”

Thank you, Brenda, and all the professionals who showed up ready to learn from this workshop. It was a great pleasure to connect with all of you.

If you are on the marketing team at a college or university, I would love to speak with you about how a one-day content marketing workshop can make a difference in your enrollment strategy.

For more on the current state of content marketing, here are a few links:

  • Over at Michael Brenner’s blog is an update to Onalytica’s list of Top 200 Content Marketing Influencers.
  • Is your content valuable? Over at the Content Marketing Institute, Michele Linn uses a prime example to tackle what is perhaps the most important question every content marketer should be asking.
  • Reuters recently found that headlines are the top drivers of traffic in search and social.
  • Marketing Land has a nice, stats-based rundown of why content marketing trumps native advertising any day of the week.

What content marketing discoveries have you or your company made recently? Feel free to share in the comments below.


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Below are recent endorsements for The Social Employee (McGraw-Hill, August 2013) by Tom Peters and David Aaker on their social networks, but if you want to see more of their endorsements click here.

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In The Social Employee, we go behind the scenes with several leading brands—such as IBM, AT&T, Dell, Adobe, Southwest Airlines, Cisco, Acxiom, and Domo—pulling the lid off the inspiring social business success stories that have propelled these companies into the 21st century. These cutting-edge brands have all come to the same realization: the path to social business lies through empowering the social employee.

See what others are saying about The Social Employee and order your copy today!


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“Great brands have always started on the inside, but why are companies taking so long to leverage the great opportunities offered by internal social media? . . . The Social Employee lifts the lid on this potential and provides guidance for businesses everywhere.” JEZ FRAMPTON, Global Chairman and CEO, Interbrand


Amazon_agold-bookThe Social Employee offers an unparalleled behind-the-scenes look at the social business success stories of some of the biggest brand names in the business world, including IBM, AT&T, Dell, Adobe, Southwest Airlines, Cisco, Acxiom, and Domo. These cutting-edge brands have all come to the same realization: the path to social business lies through empowering the social employee.

The brands that leverage their employee base in order to engage customers and prospects through social media are the ones destined to win the marketing wars. This book not only details the astronomical rise of the social employee, but also outlines the innovative methods that leading companies have employed to foster cultures of enthusiastic and engaged workers.

FORMcGrawHill_RedEWORD by David C. Edelman, Global Co-Leader, Digital Marketing & Sales Practice, McKinsey & Company

AFTERWORD by Kevin Randall, Vice President of Brand Strategy & Research at Movéo Integrated Branding, and journalist for The New York Times, The Economist and Vanity Fair.

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