Who is King of Content

The recent issue of B to B magazine has an interesting article entitled “Media, agencies battle to be king of content.”

You can find it here:  http://www.btobonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20091012/FREE/310089998/1151/btobissue

What jumped out at me right away is that the “fight” was between the media and agencies. As a marketing manager at a couple of mid- to large-sized software firms, I ALWAYS felt that I was responsible for content. Media outlets are places I can promote/place my content. But I do see the problem for media. They generate stories and see themselves as kings of content. But I don’t think that ever was the case. They were the repositories of content that, for the most part, came from vendors. Now, they do great work at compiling content, writing articles on new technologies, trends, etc. and occasional independent surveys and reporting, but they have always depended on vendors and analysts for a lot of what they regurgitate. So I don’t see a “battle between media and agencies.”

Content should come from BOTH the firm (whether they use an agency or not – personally, I only used agencies in specific situations since I know my products and customers better than they do) and media outlets. But the content is different. A company has a purpose to all its content – to get sales. Media, on the other hand, has a different purpose – to make itself a valuable resource so people will subscribe. And the distinction is significant.

As a marketing manager, I created hundreds of pieces to content all designed to generate awareness and push prospects down the marketing-to-sales funnel. Then, I used media outlets to place my “educational” content out there so people (my target audience) could find it in a non-threatening environment. Most media outlets are still seen as impartial. Or at least somewhat impartial – more so than vendor sites.

A recent Marketing Sherpa study found that 80% of B2B buyers found their vendor rather than the vendor finding them. Where did they find them? In all likelihood, from trusted sites that cater to their needs such as media sites. From the perspective of a marketing manager, I looked for media outlets that had my target audience as their readership. Then I found out how I could promote my content through them. Often, it was something as simple as them doing an email blast to a select group promoting one of my educational pieces of content (whitepaper or upcoming webinar). So for me, this whole “battle” over who is king of content is not real. For the most part, content has always come from vendors but media outlets have served as a lens and filter for that content. The best media outlets digest and interpret vendor content based on other factors such as trends, competition, technologies, etc.


2 comments so far

  1. Doug Kessler on

    Agreeed. But I think I place a bit more value on independent, third-party media that acts as more than just a lens for vendor content.

    My favourite media serves the reader first, even if it is directly opposed to the vendor agenda. For me, the best content is usually done by a journalist or editor. Vendor stuff can be excellent (and we think we produce some of that for our clients) but it’s very hard to hide the agenda.

    If a reader is not yet sure he or she wants to be in your marketing funnel, an independent view may be more valued.

    I do agree that both are essential though.

    • gregdonahue on

      Doug, you are 100% right. As a vendor, I actually hated just having a media group just “regurgitate” my content. Although I knew they would get my messaging right, they also weren’t adding anything to the party. As risky as is can be, I often submitted products for independent product reviews.

      I guess a problem with most media now is that they don’t have those people who do independent thinking and analysis any more. With downsizing and consolidation, many reporters seem to have disappeared. In the past few years, I’ve found that many of my media outlets are just taking me at my word and publishing whatever I send to them. Great for me (vendor) but not so great for impartial opinion (readers). But maybe that’s where blogs can come in and help!

      Thanks for the comment, Doug!

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