DivvyHQ Book Club: Killing Marketing by Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose

 In Content Analytics, Content Marketing, Content Strategy, Organizational Change

“What if everything we know to be true about marketing is actually what’s holding back our business?”

Let me start with a quick story of a B2B manufacturer that experienced phenomenal growth in 2015. And by the way, 2015 was the first year they hired a marketing director and invested in marketing.

They grew 650% that year.

Like any company they wanted to see what activities and campaign(s) contributed to this explosive growth, so they decided to do a review at year end. They did a complete analysis of all their marketing campaigns; events, advertising, pay-per-click and search. What did they find out? Well, they found out that none of their activities provided a return. From a strict ROI perspective, each campaign was considered a failure.

But, how did the company grow by 650%?

The CFO decided to have each department (Marketing, PR and Sales) provide an analysis to see how much each contributed to the overall growth. Marketing reported back that they were responsible for all of the 650% growth. Then PR reported back that they were responsible for all of the 650% growth. Then Sales reported back that it was their efforts that resulted in the 650% growth. If this were the actual case, the company should have grown by nearly 2000% instead of 650%!

The moral of this story is that this B2B manufacturer made an investment and it paid off in a big way. This is just one of the amazing, real-world stories highlighted in the book Killing Marketing by Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose.

Is Marketing a Cost or Investment?

Pulizzi and Rose’s Killing Marketing builds on the core tenants of content marketing. At the book’s foundation is the premise that at least some of the business’ marketing investment should be used to generate profits, not just costs.

In today’s landscape marketers face the burden of creating and promoting content with little direct measure of success. Additionally, they produce more and more content each year just to keep pace, while the cost of promoting that content continues to rise.

It takes specialized talent and time to focus on quality content, that has never changed. What has changed is the production and distribution of content. What used take skilled labor, expensive tools and large investments in production and distribution can now be done by anyone. While production and distribution are available at the click of a button, the value of high-level content continues to increase.

Content Marketing: Tactic or Business Strategy?

In the book the authors pose an operational shift. Instead of doing business the same old way and looking at the marketing department as a cost center, we should take a new look at the marketing department and transform it in the lens of content marketing. Yes, the marketing department can actually be a profit center.

As Pulizzi and Rose put it; “We must kill the marketing that makes it’s living from accessing audiences for short bursts at a time so that they might buy our product. We must rebirth a new marketing that makes it’s living from building audiences for long periods of time so that we might hold their attention through experiences that place us squarely in the initial consideration set when they are looking for a solution. This is the marketing of the future, it is achieving a long-term return on the one asset that will save our business…an audience.”

Throughout Killing Marketing Pulizzi and Rose provide numerous great examples of brands that have successfully monetized their marketing department including; Red Bull, Johnson & Johnson, Arrow Electronics, Lego Schneider Electric, Salesforce, Nike, HBO, Netflix and many more.

What do we kill first?

A new idea/way is almost always met with a realization that the marketing department still has to make product sheets, brochures, etc. and they do not have the bandwidth to take on all of these new ideas. Robert Rose suggests listing out everything you are producing now and asking “why?”. Most answers will inevitably derive from some form of “this is how it’s always been done.” If you want to start something new, make room by eliminating an existing item.

By starting small and prioritizing the actions that will make the biggest impact to your core audience,  the process becomes much more tangible.

Thinking Like Publishers

Circling back to the B2B company highlighted in the beginning of the post, the CFO’s ultimate conclusion was that we need to look at the investment of marketing as a whole and not as ROI of individual campaigns or a single department.

This revolutionary idea of turning your marketing department into a profit center by running it like a media company that Pulizzi and Rose champion is no small feat. Some marketing leaders may in fact balk at the idea, however the authors close with just that thought. “What if we are wrong? What’s the worst that could happen?” In short, Pulizzi and Rose’s answer to that is…

“Even if you don’t want to turn marketing into a profit center you can still act like a media company in the way that you operate content. Doesn’t it make sense if you are creating content to get a strategic handle on it?”

Killing Marketing is filled with top notch strategic exercises and real-world examples of companies that have brought them to life, suitable for any marketing leader ready to make a transformative impact.

“If it doesn’t cause harm or move us backwards, shouldn’t we give it a try?” – Christa Foley, Zappos

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