Joe Pulizzi over at the Content Marketing Institute recently shared a fascinating video presentation from Coca-Cola about their upcoming marketing strategy.
The short version?
Content marketing has arrived.
For more than 100 years, Coca-Cola has been one of the world’s foremost practitioners of what they call “one-way storytelling.”
(You and I call that an advertisement.)
But Coke — in the form of their brilliant VP of global advertising strategy, Jonathan Mildenhall — is looking around and realizing that the 30-second television ad won’t take them where they want to go next.
To do that, they’re turning to the tool that’s quickly becoming the most important strategy for smaller businesses — content marketing.
For anyone who still thinks that content marketing is some kind of fad, take a look at the thinking (and dollars) going into Coca-Cola’s marketing strategy, aimed at doubling worldwide consumption of Coke by the year 2020.
The videos are compelling, but they’re also packed with advertising jargon that can be about as intelligible as Klingon.
And yet, this is a peek into a great marketing and advertising mind — and there are some juicy strategies we can carry off and implement in the real world.
Here are a few of my favorite ideas from Mildenhall’s presentation.
Idea #1: “Liquid and linked” content
“Liquid and linked” is the phrase Coke’s marketing team is using to describe its developing content strategy.
Understand that a giant company like Coca-Cola creates countless “stories” every year. These “stories” are created by multiple agencies and in multiple formats — a mobile app one day, a viral video another, a really good television ad the third.
Mildenhall describes these stories as being like molecules in a glass of Coke. Each molecule is an individual piece of content, but they’re also bound together. There’s unity there … a content strategy that acts like the “glass,” giving shape to the whole endeavor.
There’s a balance between control — keeping your content “linked” by a coherent idea, and chaos — allowing your content to be “liquid” and to wander around the Net, being shared and even altered along the way.
How you can use it: Make your content good enough, remarkable enough, to be “liquid” — to be shared outside your own circle of influence.
But don’t forget to keep your content “linked” to a strong sense of who you are and what you offer. Viral doesn’t do you any good if it’s not linked to an underlying business strategy and goal.
Idea #2: The 70/20/10 content plan
This is a nice framework for a complex content marketing strategy, but you can also lift it directly for a much simpler program. (Like the kind normal businesses create.)
Mildenhall argues for 70% of the content you create as being “low-risk” — what he calls “bread and butter content.”
Because it’s less controversial, less risky, it also takes proportionally less time.
(Please keep in mind that “bread and butter” doesn’t mean boring or low-quality. It just means that it’s the kind of solid, useful content your audience expects.)
20% of content “innovates off of what works” … it’s more in-depth, it takes more time and energy to create, and it connects more deeply with a well-defined segment ofyour audience. Ideally, of course, that’s a segment that buys your products or services.
The final 10% is what Mildenhall calls “high risk” content. These are brand new ideas — the wild hair stuff that might work … and might fail.
Mildenhall makes the point that it’s this risky 10% where your future 20% and 70% content will come from. Today’s loony idea is tomorrow’s cornerstone content.
This is also the content that will keep you from burning out creatively. It keeps you excited about what you’re doing, and allows you to keep evolving in a fast-moving environment.
How you can use it: Too many content marketers don’t actually know what their 70% content is. What topics and keywords are most important to your readers? What are your audience’s key desires and problems, and how can you speak to them?
20% content takes the 70% and goes deeper. Maybe it’s a special report, or a video series, or a free email course.
Once in awhile, a content idea even evolves into a full-blown product.
And your 10% content is what keeps you sane. It’s content that reaches out to the edges, or comes at your topic in an entirely new way. Your audience might not be there yet, or they might be right there with you. You don’t know until you put it out there.
Idea #3: Content excellence
Content excellence is part of Mildenhall’s official job title, which I think is quite cool.
In his presentation, Mildenhall says,
The role of content excellence is to behave like a ruthless editor, otherwise we risk just creating noise.
Unfortunately, he says this immediately after saying “The development of incremental elements of a brand idea that get dispersed systematically across multiple channels of conversation for the purposes of creating a unified and coordinated brand experience,” proving even the best of us sometimes needs to take our own medicine.
Content excellence is the first rule of Copyblogger.
Too many would-be marketers try to dance over this one.
Without excellence, the time you spend on content marketing will be entirely wasted.
How you can use it: The first thing you need to do is to be honest with yourself. If you can’t create content that’s damned good, you need to either get better or you need to partner with someone who’s got the talent to create content that’s worth your audience’s attention.
How about you?
Those are three of Coca-Cola’s ideas about where content marketing is heading. How about you? Did you find some great strategies of your own in the videos? What are the exciting ideas informing your own marketing — and how are you implementing them?
Let us know in the comments.
About the Author: Sonia Simone is co-founder and CMO of Copyblogger Media. Share your brilliant content marketing ideas with her on twitter.