Want vs. Need: The Content Marketing Software Disconnect

Rebecca Lieb's picture

Here’s a scenario: It’s lunchtime. Today it’s your job to make lunch for the family. You decide to make sandwiches. In the kitchen, rummaging through cabinets, you realize you’re fresh out of bread, so you make a run to the store.

Once there, what do you buy? Bread? Or bananas?

If you responded “bananas,” you may well be a content marketer.

Recently I have been busily crunching data for a new research report on the content marketing software landscape (the full report will be available in early May from Altimeter Group at no cost). We’re sifting through piles of survey data about marketers’ content marketing pain points, their budgets, how they make buying decisions, and how these wants and needs correspond to the existing offerings from a highly varied, complex, and rapidly changing vendor landscape.

Surveys often reveal surprises, and this time is no exception. We broke content marketing solutions into a total of nine categories and asked content marketers two key questions:

  • What types of content marketing software solutions do you most urgently need?
  • What software solutions do you plan to invest in over the next 12 months?

Overwhelmingly, their answers fall into the realm of complete disconnect (i.e., buying bananas when you know you need bread).

I’m not going to give away all our research findings (besides, we’re still working on the report), but when the data started coming back, we learned that overwhelmingly, content marketers intend to spend money this year on tools that help them to create more content. “Feeding the beast” is no longer a term reserved for journalists and newsrooms; it’s a very real problem facing organizations that are working hard to create content for a proliferating number of channels, primarily in owned and earned (social media) channels.

But ask these same marketers what they actually need in terms of content marketing software solutions, and you’ll get a very different answer. They are saying that they need tools to help them find and target the right audience for all the content they’re so frantically trying to create.

There are clearly many reasons for this disconnect, but the most glaringly obvious one is a focus on tactics over strategy (i.e., on cart-before-the-horse content marketing coming before content strategy). The overwhelming majority of the content marketers we surveyed say their organization lacks a formal, documented content strategy — a statistic borne out by similar studies. For example, according to the Content Marketing Institute half of B2B marketers don’t have a formal strategy).

If there’s a clarion call for a documented content strategy, it’s spending money on bananas when what you really need is bread (or, in this case, content creation instead of finding the appropriate audience for what’s created).

It’s hard to think of a more apt metaphor for why organizations require content strategy than this disconnect between need and pain on the one hand, and budget allocation on the other.

Bear in mind it’s not an either/or proposition. Strategy is also planning against goals and determining what tools and workflows are required for an efficient and effective content marketing program. I’m by no means debunking the need for creation tools. Anyone creating content for digital channels needs them.

Please read the rest of this post on iMedia, where it originally published.

Image Credit: Little Things That Amuse Me


Dominique's picture

Hi Rebecca,

Thanks for this article. As a baker ;-) my analysis is that marketers are lazy.

1- It is easier to grow bananas and produce lots of content than to build a strategy
2- It is easier to measure how many articles you have written, fans and followers you have added than to measure the real impact of your content with your key audience.
3- You can't be really target content if your segmentation is "pre-social". Social Media is building new audiences that were not defined at the time most of marketers did their segmentation/product and message definition and unless these marketers restart from the beginning (segmentation from social), it is almost impossible to be "relevant".
4- It is very hard for people who are used to communicate to "lists" (list of prospects, list of emails, list of followers ...) to switch to communicate to "networks.

Anyway, thanks for the article. Very interesting

Yann Gourvennec's picture

Thanks for this piece Rebecca, this is music to my ears. 80% of my time is spent on the bread vs. banana question and not "feeding the beast" as you suggest. I call these types of marketers "zombie marketeers" they do content marketing, a lot of content marketing, they have just forgotten why they do it and obviously they wonder why it doesn't work better. I am sure that we are at the crux of the history of Internet content management. A story I have described in this somewhat longish presentation for the Online Marketing Institute: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zFUkh3tyeHY

Adzuno's picture

thanks for very concerning report. Content marketing software simplifies and streamlines the tiresome job of content generation with eminent caliber content.

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Rebecca Lieb

Rebecca Lieb is a strategic advisor, consultant, research analyst, keynote speaker, author, and columnist.


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