Become a Content King with Ideas from the Ultimate Content Creator

According to new research from the Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs, 60 percent of marketers plan to devote more of their budgets to content marketing in 2012. This is an increase of 9 percent from the prior year’s survey.

The survey results point to growing confidence among marketers in their use of content marketing tactics. Yet, as the chart shows, the marketers express concerns about developing engaging content for prospects and customers.

B2B Content Marketing Challenges Chart

Are you exploring the potential of content marketing for your own business? Are you, like the marketers in the survey above, worried about engagement?

Perhaps some thoughts from the chairman of the ultimate content producer — The New York Times — will inspire your creativity.

Embrace today’s multiplatform environment
Arthur Sulzberger shared the ongoing work of his company to evolve from a newspaper business to what he terms a “multiplatform global news organization” in a Nov. 1, 2011 speech at The London School of Economics and Political Science.

To put the transformation in context, Sulzberger highlighted the company’s mission, which guides its strategy.

“We create, collect, and distribute the highest quality news and opinion, while upholding what we believe is the gold standard of journalism, and we do it across all platforms where our readers want to find us,” said Sulzberger in his talk.

Although most of us don’t have the expert resources of The New York Times to draw upon, there are elements of its approach and creative revamp we can examine for our own businesses.

Naturally, an important one is the goal of sharing information across the platforms your customers use. Do you have a presence wherever your customers are?

Focus on customer engagement
In addition to this traditional emphasis on quality, The New York Times has embarked on a highly focused customer engagement strategy. Its purpose is to draw in site visitors who have “a dizzying array of other options.” It does this in several ways, including the use of social media.

Sulzberger reported the result of this effort, noting that research company Netprospex ranks The New York Times No. 1 as the most social company in the U.S. As a social business, it bests powerhouses like Google, Apple and Disney.

For the chairman, engagement goes beyond likes and followers. Measurement means more time spent on the site, more stories read, more videos viewed — and, importantly for revenue, more ads viewed.

Analyze your audience
Sulzberger describes the company’s customer as “an incredibly enlightened, intelligent and sophisticated group of users who are highly engaged with our products.” His approach has been to tap into this community and give them opportunities to share their knowledge and insights.

He outlined three current initiatives to build on this community engagement:

  • Expanded online discussion and community features
  • Redesigned comments section
  • Trusted commenter program to recognize people who share high quality comments. “Their submissions will be published on our Opinion pages and across NYTimes.com without prior modification,” said Sulzberger.

The New York Times did extensive research before launching the digital subscription model. The readers “were very clear about what they value: the content.” As a result, it created a tiered service with incentives for loyal home delivery subscribers and online users.

The company’s research has also shown that readers consume news across platforms, favoring print in the morning and tablets at night, as one example.

Are you as customer-centric in your approach?

Value social media
The NY Times has a strong voice in the Internet’s global conversation and takes its role seriously as a high quality news provider. For this reason, Sulzberger says that all social media links to NYTimes.com are free.

The New York Times staff brings its journalistic expertise to platforms like Twitter and Facebook.   “We come up with clever hashtags, ask provocative questions, find ways to curate only the best material for our site, provide Times quality live reporting on Twitter, and our staff aggressively and skeptically reports on developments in the social media world,” commented Sulzberger.

While subscriptions to newspapers continue to decline, there is small upward growth in digital editions. At The New York Times, results are especially encouraging since the start of the pay wall in March 2011. With 324,000 digital paid subscribers at the end of the third quarter, the company has made progress in developing another revenue stream and staying in the forefront of content creators who can charge for information — a sure sign of success.

Have you learned lessons from prominent content producers that have influenced your own content marketing efforts?

You might also enjoy the summaries in News You Can Use: Three Finds on Surfing the Web This Week.

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About creativeconsiderations

Christine Sullivan is a communications strategist with expertise in communications planning, writing and content development, and executive communications. She can be reached at mycreativeconsiderations@gmail.com.
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3 Responses to Become a Content King with Ideas from the Ultimate Content Creator

  1. Pingback: Content As A Platform « ReciprocityTheory

  2. rsj8000 says:

    Christine: Great read! One note I’d like to make is the 12% who note trouble getting buy-in from the higher-ups. This is where the importance of measurement and Analytics really come in. Stats protect the creative people from the base corporate instinct of saying “no” to anything that is unfamiliar. Believe it or not, there are still a lot of companies CONSIDERING getting involved in Social Media.

    I also believe Analytics is one sure fire way to analyze your audience. You may think you know what your audience wants, but your stats will tell the truth. Your customers are talking, and stats will allow you to listen to them!

  3. Thanks for the thoughtful comment and taking time to visit, Ryan. I do agree that measurement can make the business case for social media.

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