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Just a Book — Killing (Everything We Know About) Marketing

Courtney Beasley

Courtney Beasley

“Thoughtful strategy has given way to execution. Deep insight has given way to failing fast. Innovation has given way to acceptable inefficiency.”

Sound familiar? If so, you’re likely an overly busy marketer — and you’re not alone. This year in our fourth annual book club for marketers, Just a Book, we’re reading “Killing Marketing” by Joe Pulizzi, founder of Content Marketing Institute and Content Marketing World. In the book, you will discover how innovative businesses are reinventing their views of marketing and turning the traditionally costly department into a revenue center.

While the thought of “killing” everything we know about marketing may seem daunting, the reward comes from redefining our goals and processes, in order to ultimately transform it into something more successful, sustainable, and profitable. Essentially, Joe wants marketing teams to start thinking and acting like a media company to ultimately drive profit.

“Killing Marketing” features a number of ways a company can generate revenue once a loyal audience has been established through valuable content creation. But to even consider making this fundamental shift, marketing teams should follow these three guidelines:

1. Orchestrate events for your customers — don’t simply guide them

“Regardless of whether it is a long, high-touch B2B journey or a completely transactional B2C journey, customers don’t want to be guided; they simply expect to be charmed at every step.” (Page 143)

Marketers talk a lot about buyer journeys — and they should. It’s important to know how potential customers are viewing and interacting with your content on their way to purchase, but it’s equally important to realize that it’s not just about getting the maximum number of stops along the journey. Instead, “Killing Marketing” encourages marketers to create valuable platforms that customers inherently want to be a part of, full of content they want to interact with. “In short we lead, from the top down, from brand onward with valuable media products that build audiences that inform and provide integrated business value.” (Page 145)

We often hear around the Walker Sands office, “How can we make our clients happy?” That same question should apply to the prospect’s journey as well. When you know your audience well enough to create content that makes them happy, that’s when real potential for partnerships begins.

2. Don’t focus on data — focus on meaning

“To make data meaningful, businesses must develop new strategies to find the emotional value in data that is given, rather than gathered.” (Page 143)

This is necessary because, as “Killing Marketing” argues, we can use data to tell us what prospects are interested in, or when we have their attention, but what we need is data to tell us how to engage with them to begin with. The book predicts that marketing teams of the future will develop new roles for an “editorial strategist,” who will be charged with transforming mass amounts of data into something manageable and meaningful, allowing their teams to develop fewer but more powerful experiences for customers.

employees at whiteboard

3. Don’t be fast — be agile

“As the number of potential digital experience opportunities explodes, businesses must resist the urge to be everything all the time — and instead focus on being in the right place at the right time.” (Page 151)

I’m sure you’ve heard a variation of this advice before, but marketers are still constantly falling into the trap of confusing fast with agile. A “fast” marketing department is reactive and scared of moving too slowly — ultimately spending more time on activities that may look good in the short term, but do nothing for the business or customer in the long term. An “agile” marketing department works to optimize a set of well-defined experiences, so they can meet the customer with the information they need, when they need it.

Implementing the above strategies is just step one in the process of transforming your marketing department. The next steps focus on thinking beyond the campaign, making content an actual strategic function in your business that has the potential to generate a profit.

How do you do that? You’ll have to read the full book to find out. And if you’re in Chicago, join us on October 3rd at the American Writers Museum for a meet and greet with Joe. RSVP here and we’ll send you a free copy of the book before the event.