The author of The Now Revolution is big on Facebook marketing and creating robust engagement programs with events, discounts, and insider access. "Activate your fans, don’t just collect them like baseball cards. These are your best, most enthusiastic customers who have taken the initiative to raise their hands.... Don't bore them to the point where they lose interest." Increasingly, Baer is advocating content marketing as a major component of every brand's strategy. We're watching him this year for some of the best social strategy in the industry—and we're certainly not bored.
Boeing's communications/social media director has packed a Dreamliner-load of user-friendly content into Boeing.com, relaunching it as a brand journalism platform in 2010. The aerospace giant now engages the world with videos of test flights, a flotilla of Facebook pages (its store has 100,000+ likes), and numerous blogs and Twitter accounts that keep the company soaring above the competition. Blecher, a former Bloomberg reporter, is keen on hiring journalists who "think like an audience member" to avoid communicating in a vacuum. We're keeping an eye on him for more unconventional examples of brand journalism in 2012.
Agencies looking to get serious about content marketing in 2012 will follow in kbs+p's footsteps and hire a master. Bloom has been agitating for audience-specific, "device agnostic" content and for media companies to act more like marketing companies since his days as editor of Advertising Age, which knows a thing or two about getting the word out. “Brands want to be at the center of content and communities, and they're going to create these channels with or without media companies," Bloom writes. We're eager to see the brands he reels in for kbs+p this year, and we'll be sharing his "Seven Principles of Content Marketing" along the way.
Managing 25 multiple-author blogs for business analytics powerhouse SAS keeps Bolen keenly aware of the larger picture within her organization, and she counsels other content executives to do the same. With corporate journalists on staff, she avoids micromanaging. Her primary editing advice is brevity: "Distill thoughts into quick snippets that keep readers interested," she told Predictive Analytics World. "And don’t forget it’s okay to have fun!” What is she watching for in 2012? “Significant shifts in corporate budgets, moving money from traditional advertising and PR into content marketing” (via CMI).
Brenner is definitely doing something right. Software giant SAP, where he's senior director of global marketing, recently announced its best ever full-year and fourth-quarter performances. And Brenner's B2B Marketing Insider blog is one of the most widely read in the industry. Brenner does not think content marketing is some passing fad; instead he sees it as marketing's salvation. "I believe that a continued and relentless emphasis on meeting customer needs through an effective content marketing strategy can help save marketing from declining response rates, unsatisfied customers and disenfranchised employees," he writes. We can't wait to hear Brenner's responses to the content marketing field as it booms even louder in 2012.
"Customers expect us to have a point of view. If the only way we can do that is in a 30-second spot or a Sunday free-standing insert, then we're screwed." Instead, Best Buy's director of media strategy gets the message out 24/7 with BestBuyOn, the electronics retailer's content marketing site. Broadcasting original content backed by mainstream advertisers like Procter & Gamble, the multi-channel network features behind-the-scenes movie peeks, how-to tutorials, and other content that leverages its brand in nearly all of its stores. By going big (and risky), Bryan has ensured that in 2012 we'll be tuned in to his efforts.
"What's the content designed to close the deal?" That's the question Byerly constantly asks himself as Dell’s director of online content. "This is not just about your own website; it's about mapping an entire online ecosystem. Your ecosystem of web properties must work together." Byerly has identified more than two dozen categories of relevant content dependent upon the customer's place in the buying cycle. Instead of creating all content from scratch, he recommends writers also curate by tweeting and blogging about information they find interesting and useful. We're along for the "content journey" Byerly has planned for Dell in the coming year.
The (content) king is dead. Long live content. Or so says Chapman, co-author of Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business. He doesn't believe the saying fully explains the concept. “Content is anything you create and share to tell your story. Not just an article or video but every single thing that users create, including Twitter and Facebook posts, Foursquare check-ins, and more." We'll be listening to any story this Digital Dad wants to tell us in 2012.
Advertising-network giant Federated Media has been an innovator in content ever since it propelled American Express' OpenForum. As senior vice president of editorial, Chase leads the unit that powers content marketing sites for brands, including clients such as L'Oreal, HP, and Intel. What brand will Chase and FMP launch to content marketing stardom next? We'll be following them in 2012 to find out.
"Content was a major focus from the beginning," Chen told Contently. "We had a Twitter handle and a blog before we had any customers." As director of content for the popular beauty-sample subscription service, this former magazine writer knows the value of style guides and other visionary editorial documents when it comes to developing a consistent tone and voice from multiple contributors. Birchbox's content has expanded beyond articles, videos, and Facebooking to include other channels like Foursquare, Pinterest, and vYou. Given the momentum, 2012 should be a beautiful year for Chen and Birchbox.
Eloqua's vice president of content marketing has become a leading practitioner for his brand and an influential advocate of the strategy for his customers. Eloqua's It's All About Revenue blog publishes industry-leading sales and marketing content, attracting users who are interested in the firm's award-winning marketing automation software. Eloqua is also known for stellar infographics and its "Grande Guide to B2B Content Marketing," educating marketers on how to implement and operate their own publishing programs. Chernov also co-chairs the Word of Mouth Marketing Association's ethics panel. We're looking to him in 2012 for innovations in content and demand generation to develop "nurturing" relationships for long-term, quality leads.
Kodak's chief blogger and senior social media manager gives fresh meaning to an old adage via A Thousand Words, a photography-focused company blog. She also connects customers to Kodak through the Plugged In blog and social media features like Kodak Picture Kiosks and My Kodak Moments, a Facebook app that allows users to quickly create a photobook. Cisney tweets tirelessly to her 35,000+ followers and is a favorite speaker at content marketing events.
“We’re all writers, and writers are nuts,” admits Clark (via CMI). The insanity seems to be working for the Copyblogger CEO, who frequently tops lists of influential bloggers and content marketing strategists. He’s a fan of clear content that converts consumers—and also of repetition. “Talk to anyone well versed in learning psychology, and they’ll tell you repetition is crucial," he writes. "It’s also critical in persuasive writing, since a person can’t agree with you if they don’t truly get what you’re saying.” We're betting Clark's wisdom will be worth repeating in 2012.
Since becoming CMO of General Electric, she’s devoted much time to "ecomagination" and "healthymagination," driving environmental and health innovations while collaborating with non-corporate partners. GE spends roughly 40 percent of its marketing budget on digital, with a large part dedicated to content. “We have to be okay with costumers taking control of our brand,” Comstock told Adweek. “We don’t have a choice.” Watch as GE expands the conversation with customers in 2012.Photo credit: ©2009 David M. Russell All rights reserved.
Intel's global integrated campaign manager "loves to use new technology to explore innovative marketing," according to her LinkdIn profile. That approach has helped shift the company's efforts from traditional advertising into exciting new content-driven platforms, always leaving the impression that Intel is at the forefront of improving consumers' lives through technology. An especially notable example of how the company delivers that message via top-notch content is this video featuring Scott Schumann, The Sartorialist. We're watching Didner and Intel in 2012 for the impeccable quality they bring to their content marketing innovations.
Ernst covers B2B marketing for Forrester, and he sees a future in which brands sell more based on the quality of their ideas than the quality of their products: "Marketers have to realize that in the age of the customer, business buyers don't 'buy' your product; they 'buy into' your approach to solving their problem." Ernst advocates "thought leadership," whereby brands take strong stands on the pressing issues facing their customers. We’re standing by for more wisdom from Ernst (and Forrester) in 2012.
The co-author of No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing is among the leading evangelists introducing content to the world of social media marketing. Going beyond Facebook contests and 140-character messages on Twitter, Falls advocates for developing a more organized content plan and moving heftier content across social channels. Whatever you do, don't try to tell him the effectiveness of social media can’t be measured. “You can measure it," he says. "You just have to have a plan first." We hear that and look forward to learning more about social/content convergence from Falls in 2012.
Fishkin, widely recognized as one of the leading voices on search engine optimization, is founder and CEO of the renowned SEO software firm SEOmoz. His message for the SEO community: "Content, content, content. While SEO used to be the domain of technical efforts often practicing black-hat tricks, in a post-Panda world, there's no more fooling the search engines. Instead, the way to earn great search rankings is to produce great content." And this SEO sensei, who co-authored The Art of SEO, focuses on freshness and ethical, white-hat techniques for scaling the search engines. He promotes "earning attention" as opposed to paying for it and creating content that encourages link building for the all-important inbound audience. We're watching Fishkin for ever-evolving strategies on content and marketing that propels sites to the top of search results pages.
The social networking giant very recently hired Fletcher as its first managing editor. Details are scarce, but the job description indicates that Fletcher will lead a team that produces content about how social networking is changing the world. Fletcher's resume also includes stints at Bloomberg and Time Inc. We'll keep an eye on him in 2012 to see how the great innovator of social networking further integrates and pioneers content marketing.
HubSpot’s CEO and inbound marketer extraordinaire is all about creating a “segment of one” and encouraging sites to personalize B2C content for each individual visitor. HubSpot software works in concert with content to lure in-control buyers. “Humans have gotten sick of being interrupted by marketers and have gotten better at blocking them out with caller ID, spam protection, TIVO, etc.," Halligan writes. "Each piece of content is a little magnet to pull in leads.” We’re enticed.
Ann Handley was president at Clickz.com before co-authoring 2010's Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business. The former freelance business editor now oversees all content for MarketingProfs while frequently contributing to Mashable, The Huffington Post, and American Express' OpenForum. Handley fights "Frankenspeak," useless marketing hype that relies on words like "impactful," "synergy," and most verbs ending in "-ize," but she's is a big fan of "newsjacking," relevant releases that tie a company's message to real-time current events. Watch her for: story-driven marketing savvy that connects with customers.
As president of WE’s Studio D, which claims Microsoft among its clients, Houston is at the forefront of the public relations charge toward content marketing. She cautions clients against "zombie media"—accounts and pages that are created without a sustained involvement—to ensure customers are accessing the freshest and most relevant content. Houston is also a big believer in process to achieve digital influence. We’re following her and Studio D to track how PR firms fare compared to advertising agencies in winning content marketing dollars from brands in 2012.
As editorial director of Wayfair, launched in late 2011 by CSN Stores LLC, Kennedy has the benefit of telling the brand's story using numerous products that have been consolidated from various sites under the Wayfair umbrella. And she's got plenty of experience in this arena. Wayfair lured Kennedy from her gig as East Coast editor of Better Homes and Gardens. We're watching her in 2012 for insights into how legacy consumer-mag editors are applying their skills in the realm of content marketing.
"If anyone describes themselves as a social media expert, run a mile," says Kelly, who transformed a print-heavy custom publisher into the world's first “post-advertising” agency by placing story (content) at the front of every brand to create continuous, lifelong engagement through multiple unified media channels. Lexus, Unilever, and Estee Lauder like the results. As Story Worldwide’s "chief enthusiasm officer,” Kelly evangelizes "magnetic content" that replaces the paid-media cycle with “owned and earned” media that increases marketplace credibility. We can’t wait to read Story’s next chapter.
Kuenn, a tech veteran and author of Accelerate!: The Convergence of Search, Social & Content Marketing, is amped on storytelling as a vehicle for creating quality engagement with customers. “Content that appeals to our social nature is ideal for storytelling, so find the stories about your employees, your company, your services, and your products and tell them!” He strongly advocates optimizing images, as well as content. “Images are 'searched' quite regularly. Your image could appear even when your other content pages don’t." We’re watching—and checking our alt tags.
Rebecca Lieb, analyst at the Altimeter Group, has been sounding the content marketing alarm via her blogging and speaking engagements, as well as her new book, Content Marketing. She observes that content marketing "isn't push marketing, in which messages are sprayed at a group of consumers. Rather, it’s a pull strategy—it’s the marketing of attraction." Lieb also sees some competition: "When it comes to media companies, many brands are now both advertisers...and competitors." Keep an eye on Lieb in 2012 as she continues to forecast what's in store for this new era of brand publishing.
David Meerman Scott
A prolific author and public speaker, Scott loves the Grateful Dead and thinks "newsjacking" (also the title of his latest book) is the next big thing. "In 2012, companies are finally realizing that real-time content creation is a great way to get found. Rather than rely on long-term campaigns, smart marketers will follow what's happening in the media with an eye to newsjacking their way to getting found." Count on Meerman Scott to make (or jack) plenty of news himself in 2012.
The founder of one of the leading providers of marketing automation software considers content marketing strikingly complementary to marketing automation. He advocates content marketing to his customers and practices what he preaches as the vice president of marketing for Marketo, which raised $50 million in 2011. "Content is how you market in today’s B2B world. It drives your brand, it creates thought leadership, and it’s great for your SEO." Keep an eye on Miller and Marketo in 2012 to see how they further integrate content marketing and marketing automation.
The former tech journalist and editor is current editor-in-chief of Adobe’s CMO.com, a site dedicated to digital marketing insights for chief marketing officers. He watches “brandocalypses” with interest and partnered with Stein + Partners Brand Activation to launch the Brand Activator blog at CMO.com. Moran's also fond of content curation, “the gift that keeps on giving,” and offering information about—not direct advertising of—Adobe's products. “Our job is not really to sell product, but to educate and inform the chief marketing officer about issues going on in the digital marketing world." Count on Moran to stay hyper-"active" in 2012.
Odden's Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More Customers by Integrating SEO, Social Media, and Content Marketing is scheduled to hit tablets this March. The conference keynoter and social strategist equates content with cash: "Content is marketing currency. There is no substitute for good content. Social media and SEO fit together like peanut butter and jelly. Content is the bread that holds them together." Odden sees Google+ as a major game-changer in 2012. We're looking to Odden for his calls on the game.
As senior vice president of marketing communications for software heavyweight SAP, Popper constantly experiments with media mixes (30 percent of the company’s add spend is now digital). And distribution is top-of-mind for this content marketing leader: "Where your brand is going to live online is just as important as what you're going to say online," she told the audience of NewFront 2011. SAP leads by example in that regard (check out the company's Forbes column page. We're tuned into Popper in 2012 to find out which distribution channels SAP tackles next.
The “godfather” of content marketing, Pulizzi founded the Content Marketing Institute and recently launched the Content Marketing News Channel in conjunction with PR Newswire. His books and Junta 42 blog are considered must-reads in the field, and crowds flock to his speaking engagements for the latest trustworthy know-how. There's no chance we wouldn't continue following Pulizzi into 2012. And this year's conference circuit gives us plenty of opportunities to do so.
As senior editor of the leading natural foods supermarket, Rowe presides over an impressive content ecosystem that includes the Whole Story blog, a growing stash of videos, email newsletters, and much more. Even more remarkable are Whole Foods' Cooking@Home sites, which provide localized content in various U.S. cities with Whole Foods outposts. This localization of content marketing efforts is precisely why we're keeping our eye on Rowe in 2012: We're eager to see how the strategy plays out—and might inspire other leading online marketers to follow suit.
Rudman heads content strategy and development for American Express’ OpenForum, arguably the world's leading content marketing operation. Launched in 2007, the site publishes reams of original, exclusive content for small-business owners and recently unveiled a series of business apps like SearchManager to help members maximize ROI and receive personalized support for SEO. Rudman believes that soon "all successful businesses will be publishers."
Some people like long walks on the beach. Sarofian prefers successful branded content: "Audience and data are sexy"—and key to understanding consumer behavior. “It’s all born from insight, which is married to marketing objectives.” Digitas' marketing director of branded content is also intrigued by the perfect marriage—of content: "Paid [content] is really an amplification of earned and owned. Earned and owned are the way to go now for brands, in terms of distribution.” That's the kind of commitment we can stick with in 2012.
Indium’s director of marketing communications led by example, creating his own blog and then encouraging his companies' engineers to do the same. Now the materials conglomerate has more than 70 blogs and attributes millions in sales to its inbound marketing and social media content. Short's “four Ps” of blogging are purpose, passion, personality, and perseverance. We'll be glued to his YouTube channel and award-winning B2B MarCom blog in 2012.
This entrepreneur-turned-venture-capitalist says he's learned more from one failure than from all his successes. These days, the founder of Skok Systems, Corporate Software Europe, Watermark Software, and SilverStream Software sits on the board of HubSpot and Digium (among other companies). Skok is big on SaaS, multi-axis pricing, and measuring customer engagement. In December 2011, Evan Carmichael named him one of the Top 50 Angel Investors to Follow on Twitter. Skok believes in building relationships of trust with customers by creating communications channels that offer value-added content—without a whiff of sales messaging. We're watching him in 2012 for shrewd insights into the ever-changing application-development landscape.
Videos on how to care for blond hair and articles on applying eyeliner are just the tip of the lipstick for L’Oreal's U.S.-based chief marketing officer, who oversees the French cosmetics giant’s aggressive expansion into the “digital battlefield.” Digital outlay now accounts for 10 percent of the company’s reported $1 billion in U.S. ad spending, so Speichert can go huge with YouTube channels like Destination Beauty and monster content sites such as makeup.com. He’s also worked with Telemundo to launch a novela fan club. We'll be watching closely as L’Oreal seeks to add 70 million customers in the already-saturated U.S. market.
Writer, poet, and—corporate marketer? If you’re Vincent Stanley, it's a natural combination. Patagonia inspires passion, and Stanley ensures that the outdoor-apparel retailer's content promotes it. Patagonia's website offers customers videos, music (with profits going to environmental causes), and a get-outside-and-active blog that celebrates the outdoor life. What's more, Patagonia’s The Footprint Chronicles unflinchingly traces the "cradle to cradle" environmental impact of each product: "We tell a better, truer, more useful story when we talk about our challenges and shortcomings than when we simply praise ourselves." The company's latest campaign, Our Common Waters, spotlights the global freshwater crisis and manufacturing's role in it. We're watching Patagonia in 2012 for more risk-taking content initiatives.
Organization: Studio One
The author of the Executive’s Guide to Enterprise Media Social Strategy was a reporter and a record-label executive before working for SAS. Now, as director of social strategy for Radian6, the monitoring software used by half the Forbes 100, Thomas is entrenched in content marketing. The Radian6 blog produces industry-leading content about social media marketing (but not about Radian6 itself.) This site attracts a large audience of marketing executives, providing a steady stream of leads for Radian6.
All that glitters in content marketing isn’t made by Gilt Groupe, but if you want your efforts to shine you probably follow this mastermind behind GiltMANual and Park & Bond. Thoreson was executive editor at Men.Style.com (a Conde Nast property) before moving to more golden pastures as head of men's editorial and creative at Gilt. He brought with him a treasure of content experience in the men’s lifestyle market and claims a star-studded roster of contributors who create real conversations with readers. We'll be checking in throughout 2012 to see if Thoreson sets a trend for more legacy-media editors of his caliber to make the move into brands.
Scott Vaughan"marketing as a service" offering. Given UBM’s publishing strength, it’s all about content marketing. As Vaughan describes it: “Successful marketing today requires a content-centric, conversational approach that engages and sustains a community of prospects, customers, and influencers." UBM already counts tech heavyweights such as IBM, Dell, and SAS among its marketing service customers. In 2012, we'll be watching to see how UBM proceeds in this publisher-as-content-marketing-services-provider model.
Wheatland continues to be a marketing pioneer at Kelly OCG, shifting an enormous portion of the company's marketing budget and energy to content. His projects have been awarded by the Australian Marketing Institute and have claimed gold and silver MarCom Awards. He favors a “kill your cheerleaders” approach, believing that great content helps readers meet their goals instead of exalting your products. We'll try to refrain from cheering but we'll certainly keeping watching Kelly OCG in 2012.
"I think marketers are being forced to think like publishers," says Sybase's vice president of corporate marketing. "Social media is forcing marketers to create more content in order to participate in conversations and drive conversations.” Wilson is thinking like a publisher by hiring tech journalists to ramp up Sybase’s social communications, creating e- or i-book versions of print offerings, and pushing QR codes for mobile product demos and to build engagement with prospects. As more marketers don publisher hats in 2012, Wilson's next moves will be on our radars.
The man behind the website Man of the House, Worple and Barefoot are guiding the world's leading consumer-goods company—Procter & Gamble—even deeper into content marketing with sites like Home Made Simple. (P&G also brought us "As The World Turns," the first 30-minute daytime television drama.) Barefoot (acquired by BBDO) also handles Swiffer, Miller Brewing, and Del Monte. With names like these, it's impossible not to watch Worple in 2012.