Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Parsing search marketing, the 'content pyramid' and RSS strategies with Sam Whitmore

Read a full transcript of the podcast. Listen to the podcast.

In my work covering enterprise application development and deployment strategies, I often find myself also witnessing a sea-change in how software providers market their values. Software has always been a challenge to market, and many of the most innovative thinking in online marketing has come from the software industry.

I'm now seeing four distinct legs of support under the software marketing bench: 1) traditional internal marketing (web sites, downloads, product literature), 2) traditional external marketing (advertising, events, webinars, lists, email, newsletters), 3) viral (blogs, podcasts, videocasts, community sites, social media), and 4) search (all of the above plus tagging, sharing, community, relevance).

I'm also seeing a hastening shift from the second leg to the third and fourth, in terms of investment and expected return. Companies are shifting the emphasis from tradition to social media.

Creating and distributing good content is essential to all these activities, and accelerates the movement to social networking and community development. I recently had a podcast conversation with Sam Whitmore, editor and proprietor of Sam Whitmore's Media Survey, in which we discuss these themes along with the burgeoning role of RSS, community, conversations, and search.

Together we wonder whether the "public" relations community will soon gain a new cohort, the "search" relations person. It's a new way to reach the public, the right public, and on the public's terms. Their search terms. Search is the new media.

Here are some excerpts:
We're now getting people to understand the concept of "You don’t have to browse anymore." They still search, of course, probably more than ever before. But you think about the two ways ... that people get their information now, it's either through RSS syndication, or through search. And it’s almost quaint to think back about, "Yeah, I think I am going to go through my bookmarks and see what I haven’t visited in a while." I don’t know anybody who does that anymore.

The idea is to start thinking strategically about your content. Instead of having thousands of people around your company, each creating their own content without much interaction about it, without much coordination about it -- but perhaps a lot of overlap and a lack of reuse -- adding to more of a case of redundancy. And that goes for everything from mimeographs to RSS feeds, and all in between.

But when you think about content more strategically -- and can plan for and create core content that they can be reused and extended across different uses, like marketing literature, the documentation you provide for your services and products, your advertising, as well as your communications with your investors, with analysts, with press -- you create more of a coordinated core set of messages and documents and content. And we'll be seeing more audio and video increasingly in this mix.

If a company can create this content core and allow people to use it and make it accessible -- in the same way as with the development of software tools and components -- you can better control your costs; you can control better your message because more of your messaging will be in sync, because its all coming off of the same core.

Any company that has a strategic direction that they are taking their business to should say, “What are the keywords that relate to our future? What is the content we can create that will drive recognition from those keywords of our value, specifically as an individual company? And how can we create an ongoing process by which we’re feeding that algorithm machine over and over again to retain that high ranking?"

That to me is marketing 2.0.

I think that these IT trade titles and these people that are being rapidly disintermediated, they need to figure out how to get some of their content to rank well in generic search environments. And that brings us back to SEO and the fact that you can subscribe to RSS search results and these people really are getting hammered.

The way you go about a whitepaper is you do research, you get information and you do interviews -- primary research. And what is an interview? It’s a discussion. Why not just create a great discussion with the experts and put that up, instead of putting it into some sort of a turgid-prose, 80-page tome that people only read the executive summary of?

Why not give the long tail its due and put up a series of five key discussions with the experts you would have interviewed anyway for the whitepaper, and let people either read the transcript or glance at the executive summary of each individual interview or discussion, and then pick and choose? To me that’s just a better way to learn. And it also, by the way, is a lot easier for the experts as well as the authors. So it really is a discussion.
Read a full transcript of the podcast. Listen to the podcast.

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Produced as a courtesy of Interarbor Solutions: analysis, consulting and rich new-media content production. Dana Gardner’s Podcast on Marketing 2.0 with Sam Whitmore. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2007. All rights reserved.