Ian Truscott is the Founder and Strategy Director of Appropingo, a consultancy that helps organizations design and implement better marketing strategies. Truscott has been a CMO/VP Marketing for a few technology companies and was a content management analyst for the Gilbane Group. With all this experience, Truscott understands a lot about marketing strategies and marketing tech, including content management.
Here are a few of those insights.
From IT-Centric to CX-Centric: The Content Management Shift
The content management industry has been going through some significant shifts over the past few years. Still, the biggest one is probably the shift away from an IT-centric perspective of managing content to one that is focused on customer experience.
"I think the important change has been a shift from an IT-centric point of view to thinking about the experience and how you're going to serve the content to the consumer.”
At the same time, Truscott said that a lot hasn't changed in content management, especially with the basic capabilities. "It's still an interface to put content into a content structure or a database and manage, and then publish to something. And I think sometimes we forget that."
Helping Organizations Create ART (Awareness, Revenue, Trust)
Truscott has held senior-level marketing positions for several companies and consulted with brands like Microsoft and NASDAQ; he understands the key roles of marketing.
"For me, I think that marketing needs to remember that its role in the business is to do those three things. Get awareness, get revenue and get trust. Now, it depends on the situation which order you put those things in. But you know, nobody wants to create tar. They all want to create art. And I think one of the challenges that CMOS and senior marketers have is making themselves relevant to the CFO and other members of the C suite. And if you create metrics based on awareness, revenue, and trust, you're going to key right into whatever their metrics are."
Truscott said he created the ART approach in his last CMO role, and it helped define the top-level metrics the marketing department needed to deliver.
The CMO and the C-Suite
I asked Truscott if the CMO is finally getting more recognition among the C-suite. He said it's still hard to judge, saying there is a growing realization that features and functions aren't enough to win market share. He said you need a great story and be out there, mentioning brands like Drift as an example of how to create a great story around a brand.
"And that's the role of marketing, to take these bright ideas and make them relevant to the marketplace and do that category definition. Because also, that's what we were talking about earlier, the way CMS vendors are being created and then creating their own category and their own acronym. That's the right thing to do as a software vendor - create your own category. But it has to be differentiated. And I think that's what those guys [Drift] did. And that's the partnership between marketing and the and the engineers and the bright folks."
Personalization Doesn't Build Relationships
Truscott wrote in a blog that personalization doesn't build relationships. In our conversation, he explained what he meant.
"Organizations need to focus on what is their story, what is the content that they want to get consumed? That asset is what is going to create that relationship with the end consumer. And of course, then we need to work on how we are going to get that asset to that consumer. And absolutely, we need to be relevant. We need to be on the right channel. We need to be in the right format and all that good stuff. But let's think about the content first. Because that's the thing that's going to create the relationship."
Truscott said that every company needs to personalize, in that they need to know who their core audience and buyer is and lean into creating content and stories for those people. This is why a content marketing strategy is so critical, and why companies need to move away from creating content and measuring engagement for everyone to creating content and measuring engagement for key audiences.
Creating a Center of Content Operations
We hear a lot about the idea of a center of content operations. I asked Truscott if that's what companies need to set up.
"I've been thinking of content as a utility within a business that you turn it on, and it's there. But if we start thinking about the production of content in a more sophisticated and operationalized way, then we start looking at the different aspects of creating content and measuring our success and how well we're doing, more in line with the operation that's happening."
Time is put into defining content ideas for personas, but there is less formality and structure around getting content done – or the operational aspects of publishing content. And then there are companies that measure content success in a way that has nothing to do with why the content was created.
The Value of a Content Hub
Truscott is a proponent of brands creating content hubs. His view is that people won't come to your branded website where you market your products and services and listen to your thought leadership. He said a content hub isn't for everyone, but for many, it's a way to bring influencers and thought leaders on board to contribute their ideas.
"So, what we've done in the past is to create a kind of an off-brand content hub, where you do no selling really, you just promote. You promote your point of view, and then you find that people get much more engaged in that kind of platform, you find that influencers are more likely to work with you, they're more likely to write for that kind of publication because it gains some kind of credibility. The credibility is dependent on the editorial."
Truscott said you do need a sales website, but for those people who are pre-sales, a content hub is a good place to share your perspectives and ideas around your category. It's creating awareness of your brand.
"It takes time because you're building a community, you're building an audience. You're gaining trust and credibility. You're getting out there and what you're actually building is a paid media channel for yourself. So, then you start advertising on this thing, and then you'll start getting pull through from that. But of course, from day one, it's not a valuable paid media channel, you'd never sponsor it as a CMO, you have to build that yourself."
When Truscott worked as a CMO for a brand, he created a digital magazine called Rockstar CMO (an idea he had before he joined the company). He has since left that company and continued to develop the magazine. For Truscott, it's about building a community for marketers who want to share ideas and experience.
"We've got such a really nice community. And again, it's differentiated. I don't go for listicles. I don't try and grow the traffic hugely. I'm more interested in having a really engaging audience. […] I don't want people to think that I'm a rock star CMO, that isn't what I was saying. I want to expose some voices you don't normally hear, you know, just genuine real people that are in senior marketing positions."