A blog from SoloPortfolio about content marketing.
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I’ve been following Chris Koch, blogger & B2B IT marketing strategist, for about a year and I read his weekly blog about 80% of the time—something I can’t say about many professional blogs that I follow. Koch writes for the Information Technology Services Marketing Association (ITSMA) as a paid intellectual in residence—and of course does a whole lot of evangelizing through his blog, related ITSMA publications and speaking events.
Here’s the thing about Chris (surely we are on a first-name basis after professing my love): he’s attracted thousands of loyal blog followers using a format that would make most marketers sweat.
Chris’s posts are usually over 1,000 words. (I am constantly reminding clients to keep their content short for terminally distracted readers.) He also uses blander than bland design for his blog, with few graphics of any kinds in his posts.
How is it that a long-winded, visually limp blog has captured the attention of so many (according to Koch, he has 300 people signing up for his blog every week)? Why is Chris Koch a content demi-god even while he breaks so many long-held rules?
Why is Chris Koch a True Thought Leader:
(1) As we say up here in Massachusetts, Chris Koch is wicked smart. But more than that, he is also very passionate about the topics he covers. This combination of uber-smarts and passion is toughest to find—and any organization that places a strategic focus on content marketing must identify and find ways to channel their smart + passionate experts. Whether content marketing is relegated to the marketing department or outsourced to a 3rd party, you still must make sure that the content is tightly tethered to your subject matter evangelists. Without smart, passionate SMEs, your content will not ring true and will be unlikely to achieve the desired echo-effect in social media circles.
(2) Koch doesn’t mind being controversial, such as when he weighed in on the uproar sparked by Forrester’s decision to ban personal blogs by Forrester analysts. Controversy is a tougher sell for organizations trying to build a following (after all, who wants to alienate a prospect). The important thing is this: content marketers must be willing to wrestle with their subject matter, seek out new information through rigorous research and intellectual curiosity, and then have a disciplined process to bring ideas forward. If you are too comfortable with what you are saying, chances are good that many others have said the very same thing before you (read: boring). See one of Koch’s blog entries deals with this subject (in 1,600 words… youch!): Thought Leadership Is Dead. Long Live Idea Marketing.
(3) Koch’s pedigree as a journalist (former Editor at CIO Magazine) is evident in the way he thoughtfully analyzes topics, methodically unpacks solutions, and engages his smart & influential readers. Want to know why journalists make first-rate content marketers? I blogged about this very topic for the Content Marketing Institute a few months ago.
(4) Koch’s writing style is smart with a touch of irreverence. Who says things like, “Trying and failing to dislodge the IT hairball?” Smart, after all, can sound boorish if a writer is wooden and pretentious. I can’t really articulate what separates boorish smart from engaging smart, but talking about IT hairballs has something to do with it.
What do you think? Who are your favorite thought leaders and why? Can you think of any other content rebels who are different—but very successful—at their craft?
When companies use thought leadership to fuel new services or rejuvenate existing ones, they not only codify expertise on how to solve some business problem; they turn it into capability that many (not just a handful) of their professionals can use with clients. They do this by taking a powerful concept described in a white paper or research study and turn it into a rigorous methodology. They then develop effective curriculum around that methodology and put their professionals through training programs so they can master it.
In other words, content marketing in this scenario is not just a promotional tool, but actually helps to capitalize on the intangibles (ie. intelligence) of a firm. I think it’s useful to think about this not just as the act of writing up a case study. Instead, the content marketer is a conduit to help consultants develop concepts, systems and tools–based on a prior engagement–that can be used by other members of the firm to serve clients.
I have long believed that marketers–particularly those who have depth of experience in a given industry or functional area–can be leveraged as members of the strategic team. But it really does take a special organization (and a talented marketing team) to make this happen. You need a marketer who has the ability to research, analyze, conceptualize and, of course, write. In a perfect world, that person also has a strong sense of information design.
Anyone have experience with this? Examples of firms where marketers are brought on to help build, expand, transform service offerings?
There have been quite a few well-known bloggers hop-scotching from one publication to the next of late. Most recently, Dan Primack, creator of peHUB Wire, announced last month that he’ll be moving on to work as a blogger/journalist for Fortune.com. Dan built his blog following on peHUB from 300 to 60,000… something I’m not surprised by given his blog persona. It’s worthwhile to go back through his older posts and see how he manages to position himself as a private equity expert, while never taking himself too seriously. Case in point, Dan is the only serious private equity blogger I know who posted the Twitter Movie Trailer.
Dan’s departure from peHUB Wire (and Thomson Reuters) brings up an important issue: to what extent should companies rely on these super-star bloggers to advance their social media strategy? Is the turnover risk worth the investment?
The real draw of peHUB Wire was not the expert content about the private equity space (though that’s part of it, of course) but seeing this information through Dan’s eyes. He’s super-smart but also irreverent and funny. I’m fairly certain Dan will bring a big chunk of his readership with him to Fortune.com.
How will peHUB Wire fare without Dan? Will their subscriber base continue to grow without Dan at the keyboard? I believe so. They have a very talented roster of bloggers, some of whom have the same edge as Dan did.
What do you think? Does your company highlight the blogger over the blog? Could your blog survive without your writer-in-chief?