Content does not equal "content"...

A few years back I worked in the outsourcing business.  Our clients at the time were major technology companies.  If the company sold hardware and software and produced over $10B annually, they were likely a client.

Some of these companies had lots of products.  Combined with enhancements, add-ons and competitive offerings, the discussion of what to sell a customer and when to sell it to them rapidly evolved to a content management problem.  We're talking 150,000 SKUs - in a business-to-business (B2 environment.

Fast forward a few years and marketing automation is all the rage; lead scoring, lead nurturing, lead management.  The players are widely known in B2B marketing circles... and most if not all tout some level of content marketing capability.  Some of these companies may sound familiar to you: Responsys, SilverPop, Pardot, Marketo, NeoLane, HubSpot, Eloqua, Unica, Infusionsoft, Act-On and others.

Marketo recently filed an S1 and was kind enough to include an image of their marketing automation platform in the Rule 424 filing - it is shown below.  You'll note in the upper left hand column the words "Content Marketing"...

...and here is the point of this post, for all you B2B marketers that sell products in a large product library environment, you'll need to work a bit harder to leverage the very cool nurturing capabilities of Marketo or others like them.  This is not a system that can easily create nurturing streams that dynamically assembles offers from your content libraries (e.g. product masters). Yes, there are 3rd party options (e.g. Acquia & Ektron, etc.) but content libraries that include images, technical specifications, product features, use cases and the like need a bit more hand holding...or to put it another way custom code.  You know, middleware development, process development and engineering.  It can be done... no question about it...and it's worth it...

But if you're in a B2B space and you want to nurture a customer through a strategically built customer model that adheres to a defined customer lifecycle - choosing the right marketing automation platform is only part of the story.  For those of you in this type of environment plan on getting in up to your eyeballs and plan on many, many months of hard focused work.

For the rest of you, if you're looking for lead nurturing and marketing automation where you have to deal with say a few hundred pieces of "content assets" in your marketing streams, then Marketo and others like them will do a superb job. 

Content marketing sounds cool and it plays well to the hoopla around social marketing and social engagement, but make sure you dig deep if you have a large product library and your content "assets" number in the thousands, tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands...

...and if this the world you live in and you need some help...drop me a note.  Building out a system with a hundreds of business rules, 100,000+ skus and tens of thousands of B2B customers is deeply gratifying - but it is not for the faint of heart - and it doesn't happen in 30 or 60 days. 


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