Talking Content Marketing – Interview With Todd Wheatland
Talking Content Marketing looks at reach and building influence with my interview with Todd Wheatland.
Todd is head of strategy at King Content, the largest content marketing agency in the Asia-Pacific. Prior to this Todd was global head of thought leadership at Kelly Services, based in Paris. He has made documentaries, written long-form journalism and created a lot of publishing vehicles both print and online. Authentic storytelling is what Todd stands for.
Six content questions, six answers, lets begin.
Do companies need to stop the campaign mindset and embrace a consistent content commitment?
I was going to stop there because it’s so fundamental, but at the same time I think there’s another story in this question. Campaign thinking is still important for the individual content objectives within an ongoing content strategy. The benefit of a great campaign is that it builds momentum and scale around a specific theme. That’s a mindset you shouldn’t discount when releasing major pieces of content, and the way you repurpose and integrate it with your other marketing tactics.
How have you seen content influence behaviour from your days at Kelly Services?
I’ve been producing content and seeing it influence behaviour since the 1990s. At Kelly, we had the opportunity to be one of the first large organisations to embrace digital content marketing in the B2B space, but the philosophy and approach was really just an iteration of what many people had been working on for decades.
One of the wonderful things about embracing content within organisations that we don’t spend enough time talking about is the value it can provide – and generate from – internal employees. If you can find a model that encourages people to take part in content creation, you can help them achieve external visibility as experts in their own fields and develop their own personal brand. You can apply that own thinking to clients and the community in general.
Are companies in danger of just ‘providing information,’ rather than being purposeful to the customer experience (Lee Odden touched upon this in his interview, click here)?
The sad truth is, in many companies it’s still too easy to not deliver great customer-focused content. Just like some people don’t have an eye for design, a lot of people don’t have an eye for content. And within the walls of an organisation, it’s natural for people to have difficulty hearing the audience’s viewpoint over the noise of wanting to sell them something. The result is that in many companies bad content can be regarded in much the same way as great content.
I think one of the key functions for a head of content is basically having the courage to say ‘no’ to content that’s not serving an audience need. Someone has to be the custodian of the audience’s interests, to make sure content isn’t just being developed to hit sales or calendar objectives.
Is finding how our audience prefers to consume content, the key to separating from the pack/competition?
I think the key to separating from the pack having the courage to develop unique content with a distinct perspective. If you take the time to really understand your audience, if you know yourself, and genuinely aim to deliver consistent value, you’ve already won. Most companies will not get there, because they’re treating content marketing as a me-too tactic rather than a genuine philosophy.
Do companies need to stop thinking that they need to be seen on all channels, but to focus on quality content and on fewer channels?
We’ve all done it. We think all these channels are opportunities, so we need to be there. Yet we don’t have the resources to do it properly, so we fall back to the lowest minimal effort possible of just reposting the same content across the same social channels all the time.
If you’re still using a social channel as a one-way megaphone promoting your own content, well, good luck with that. Yes, it’s an efficient process, but you’ll disappear into the background noise. You’re basically just shouting into the wind if all you’re doing is using it to tell the world how awesome you are. No-one cares. But if you focus on the one or two platforms that are key to your audience, and actually think about the audience with your approach, then an extra 50% of effort a single platform will get you 10X greater impact.
I think by the end of the year we’ll already see many B2B marketers circling their wagons more and more tightly around LinkedIn.
Is having scale to reach to an audience (such as LinkedIn opening up it’s blogging platform) the biggest opportunity to build our influence?
A lot of people have spent the last few years getting to understand the content marketing approach and working out how to produce content consistently. Once that’s sorted, it makes sense to focus on maximizing the return on that content investment – and a big part of that means getting it in front of the right audience.
Scale is obviously important, and publishers and platforms are banking on people being willing pony up ever-increasing amounts of cash to target new audiences. But there’s also a huge opportunity to really focus on process between marketing and sales, because nearly everyone has a very leaky bucket in harnessing the disparate parts of what they’re already doing.
For example – if someone follows your LinkedIn company page, what’s the sales process? Is anyone in the sales organisation even aware that it’s happened? Who’s responsible for pro-actively following every prospect’s twitter accounts? What sales action happens when someone follows your company twitter feed? We’ve got reams of content-related activity occurring across the ecosystem already – a lot of things that don’t necessarily look like a linear lead-scoring opportunity. It’s hard to build the systematic process of not letting those opportunities fall through the cracks. Fortunately for publishers and social platforms, it’s easier for companies to just spend money to constantly bring in new audiences.
Many thanks to Todd for his views and time, to connect with Todd on Twitter, click here
Hope that the Talking Content Marketing initiative is proving useful in how a content marketing mindset can help you and your business stand for something, become more human in your marketplace and the importance of defining (and targeting) your audience.
If there is anyone you would like to see interviewed in up and coming articles, be great to read who you are interested in.