A talented movie director makes sure that actors give an authentic performance that will emotionally affect the intended audience. A good content marketing strategist has the same goal: authenticity that creates audience engagement. And just like a movie director, content marketers are expected to deliver on time, under budget, and follow up each hit with a fresh blockbuster.
Jay Acunzo, VP of Platform & Content at NextView Ventures, has built his career on getting star-making performances out of content. He began as a Digital Media Strategist at Google and has spent time managing content for Dailybreak Media and HubSpot. In his position at NextView, Jay helps startup entrepreneurs with education and business development including content marketing strategies that addresses tech startups’ unique marketing challenges.
In advance of his presentation at the 2015 Content Marketing World conference, I interviewed Jay about the importance of personality in content marketing, his “Content Marketing Wheel” strategy and the most-overlooked metric for measuring content marketing ROI.
Innovation in content marketing isn’t about inventing wild new things or new ways of doing something.
What are three lessons you’ve learned that you believe have made you a better content marketer in your journey from Digital Strategist at Google, to VP of Platform & Content at NextView Ventures?
- All content marketing is supposed to be solving the same problems for your customers that your product does.
- Innovation in content marketing isn’t about inventing wild new things or new ways of doing something. Instead, I take my cues from Ev Williams (founder of Medium, Twitter, and Blogger) who said about innovation: “Take a human desire … and use modern technology to remove steps.” If you line up all the steps your buyer takes to do something, you can suddenly see all kinds of creative ways your content can be helpful and relevant and stand out more than the competition’s.
- Have a strong point of view! Ever since I started inserting my voice more strongly into my personal blog, and using really unique tones, storytelling styles, and angles on NextView’s podcast, only good things have happened.
Drive traffic to that pillar piece, which again, is built to hit your KPIs and built to be the most educational or entertaining piece for your buyer.
Can you provide a high-level description of ‘The Content Marketing Wheel’ and share how you believe it helps marketers get the most value out of core content marketing assets?
In one sentence, the content marketing wheel is about creating a single pillar piece (the hub) and then orienting all your marketing activity around that piece (the spokes) to drive traffic to it.
More specifically, you first create a core resource — some call this a pillar piece. The topic of the piece is driven by your audience, while the format is driven by your goals. If your audience thinks blogging is difficult, then you can teach them to blog more easily through any type of content, format aside. But if your goals are, say, broad awareness, than an infographic trumps other formats, while a gated eBook might be better for lead-gen.
Second, with that piece as your “hub,” you then orient your marketing around that resource for a time. The “spokes” that make up your distribution are tactics that feel natural to a marketer, but they now have a purpose and all topically relate to the original resource. For instance, your blog pipeline is easier to fill with ideas based on that bigger, pillar piece (excerpts, topical tangents, related news, repackaging to new mediums, etc.). And other channels like email, social, paid distribution, search, and third parties (PR, co-marketing partners, and guest publishing) all focus on either distributing that core piece or smaller pieces that relate.
Lastly, all of those “spokes” exist for one reason: Drive traffic to that pillar piece, which again, is built to hit your KPIs and built to be the most educational or entertaining piece for your buyer.
The Content Marketing Wheel helps you codify your work and stay relevant, creative, organized, and prolific.
What are three actionable takeaways that you want arm your audience members with after your presentation “The Content Wheel: Sustaining Momentum with Greater ROI While Punching Unicorns in the Face” at CMW?
This playbook really helps with three core things that we’ll discuss together:
- How to be relevant to BOTH your audience’s needs or desires and your own goals.
- How to be sustainable with your publishing. It can be really hard to continually publish content, especially for folks who don’t wake up eager to write and create things in the morning.
- How to be lean about this. I work with startups and have run this playbook dozens of times with them. Ditto for larger companies at which I’ve worked. This Wheel idea helps you codify your work and stay relevant, creative, organized, and prolific — but you can easily launch and iterate on the exact execution as you learn from your work.
(Oh, and as a bonus, I will teach you how to punch a unicorn in the face. Like, right in their big dumb faces.)
Bring lead-gen data to open the discussion, but close your boss by demonstrating an understanding of your L2CC metrics.
What do you think are the most often overlooked KPIs in determining content marketing success?
If I had to pick just one KPI, I’d say we greatly overlook lead-to-customer conversion (L2CC) rates in B2B. At the time I was leaving HubSpot, where I was head of content for a time, the company was heavily focused on that and rightfully so. Knowing which pieces convert people from leads to MQLs or SQLs or from leads to customers is invaluable. Want more budget for B2B content? Bring lead-gen data to open the discussion, but close your boss by demonstrating an understanding of your L2CC metrics.
The “right” mentality is to view content as a means to more efficiently scale your marketing a few months down the road.
In your role at NextView Ventures you oversee education and business development for many of NextView’s portfolio companies. What content marketing challenges have you found to be unique to this group of startup companies?
My biggest two challenges are getting founders and startup marketers to think about content with the right mentality while also balancing the near-term, scrappy, non-scalable tactics they need to do that fall under “marketing” at a startup. The “right” mentality is to view content as a means to more efficiently scale your marketing a few months down the road, since it’s far more beneficial to create a collection of useful content that continues to get engagement, rather than try to publish one hit after another, each needing to “beat” the last one.
What resources do you rely on most to stay current with content marketing trends?
I also use a personal, private Twitter list, subscribe to 8-10 blogs in Feedly, and receive Digiday’s newsletter.
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