Robert Rose has spent his career becoming a content marketing expert, a keynote speaker, an author, a podcaster, an early Internet pioneer, and that’s just the half of it. He is the Founder of The Content Advisory, the education and consulting group associated with the Content Marketing Institute, where he and his team help large enterprises evolve the use of owned media into powerful customer experiences. He has worked with more than 500 companies, including 15 of the Fortune 100, he’s provided marketing advice and counsel for global brands such as Capital One, Dell, Ernst & Young, Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, Thomson Reuters, Abbott Laboratories, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and UPS, and in the mid 1990’s Robert developed some of the first web strategies in the country for companies such as Mediamark Research, CTAM, and the U.S. Government.
Robert has written three books. His third, co-written with Content Marketing Institute founder and podcast co-host Joe Pulizzi, entitled ‘Killing Marketing’ was released by McGraw Hill in September of 2017. His second book, ‘Experiences: The Seventh Era of Marketing’ has been called a “treatise, and a call to arms for marketers to lead business innovation in the 21st century.” His first book, ‘Managing Content Marketing’, spent two weeks as a top ten marketing book on Amazon.com and is generally considered to be the “owner’s manual” of the Content Marketing process.
Robert is also the co-host of the ridiculously engaging podcast PNR’s This Old Marketing, which is frequently rated as a top marketing podcast on iTunes. It has more than 50,000 downloads every month, and listeners across 100 countries.
Our team was fortunate enough to chat with Mr. Rose about his accomplishments, the Content Advisory, his insights, and his thoughts on the latest content marketing trends. Read on to learn more about Robert Rose and get an influencer’s perspective on the state of the industry.
In terms of marketing, I knew when I had my first real “job” back in 1995. I joined Showtime Television Network as a marketing coordinator and to this day it was the best 40 hour a week job I’ve ever had. The people were awesome, and I learned so much about marketing. It was an amazing training ground for me. As for content marketing, I was actually doing it before there was a name for it. When I was a CMO of a software company in 2002, I structured my marketing department in what was a bit of a rebellious manner. I hired journalists, and designers and communicators and created a little “media company” in marketing rather than a traditional marketing department. My theory was that I could always teach these communicators how to do marketing – but I could not teach marketers how to be better communicators. My theory paid off, and we were very successful. That’s when, in 2008, I met this guy Joe Pulizzi at a conference and saw that it had a name – Content Marketing – and I joined up with him to form The Content Marketing Institute.
Well of course my favorite conference is Content Marketing World. It really feels like coming home to my community. As for my favorite speech, I have to say that my favorite is one that I did at Content Marketing World just prior to the launch of my book Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing. It was a short speech, and I got to tell a story about one of my favorite poets Maya Angelou.
Killing Marketing is a book that starts with a question. There’s a famous Mark Twain quote that says “it’s not what you don’t know that gets you into trouble, it’s what you know absolutely for sure.” We thought that was intriguing as it pertains to marketing. We know that the world of the consumer has changed fundamentally. But what do we really know about the change in the way that marketing is seen in the business. Most businesses think they REALLY know and understand marketing. And so we started this book with a question:
We ask “what if everything we know about marketing is what’s holding us back?”
And then the book is really a love letter to a new way to look at marketing. We want to know if we could completely restructure marketing and look at it like a profit center instead of a cost center? Can we actually start with the premise that marketing – using content and audiences – can actually drive revenue, better profit and cost savings for our business. And we tell the story of many successful businesses that are actually making this evolution.
We hope that marketers will be really inspired to start making some of these changes in their business.
The Content Advisory is my company. It’s a new company that I’ve started to continue to advance the idea of the power of audiences to brands. We teach brands how to build audiences that transform their marketing. We do it through the use of research, education and strategic advisory services. Our goal is to help brands tell their story better, and to build the audiences that will enable them to transform their marketing.
Most shouldn’t to be honest. I certainly see the attraction to the newest and shiniest toy – which in this case is Virtual and Augmented Reality. But, to be honest, most content marketers should really be focused on creating a solid, measurable strategy for building audiences before they actually start investing a ton of time and money into the newest technologies. Now, of course, there are industries and companies that have a natural need to lead in this area – and I want to be clear that for those companies it makes total sense. But here’s the thing – if you don’t know whether that means you or not – then it doesn’t. The key to success for most content marketers in 2018 will be to get to the basics of a solid content strategy that can scale – not to just throw money at the newest and coolest thing.
I think it’s probably easier to see which ones are on the downswing in 2018. I think it’s increasingly hard to invest a lot in companies like SnapChat. They just seem fairly directionless at the moment. The usual suspects – including LinkedIn and Facebook are probably the leaders right now. But the ones that have me most interested are the ones that are in Asia. Companies like Tencent, Alibaba and Baidu are emerging to be some of the more interesting platforms to watch for US and European brands.
Absolutely yes. Long form content continues to prove its value. In fact, you can see research that shows that there is much better engagement on long-form content, and that blog posts are getting longer and longer. Check out this research from Andy Crestodina’s company.
We have to think about asking the right questions. For example, with quality vs quantity – we are (as a business usually asking the wrong question).
If we are measuring quantity as the means of our content success – that means we are asking “what is the value of YOU – the content creator?” But usually what we really want to know (As a business) is “what is the value of the content?” See, we’ve asked the wrong question. Are we measuring the content, or the person creating the content? If we truly get to the heart of the answer we are seeking – we will become better storytellers – and we will start measuring the right things.
What do you think makes podcasts so popular right now? Podcasts are a surprisingly intimate experience for your listeners. This is also what makes them so powerful. The audio is truly a way to get into people’s heads (literally- Ha!). My biggest piece of advice would be to not start one until you are absolutely sure you can be consistent and dedicated to do it for at least one year. It’s a very long journey from starting to building an audience with podcasts – so you have to commit to it. The other piece of advice is to invest in the proper equipment. Get a good microphone and learn how to use the equipment. Your podcasts need to sound great, and so take the time to really understand the production process. It’s important.
Find your story. And what I mean by that is find the thing you are passionate about – and the thing you want to talk about incessantly. This is where you will really shine. Knowing the facts, and understanding your subject matter is really important, but it’s not nearly as important as having emotional passion for it. This is really the most important thing.