My one-step job creation plan

Thomas Marks brings years of marketing experience to his blog "It's All About Content" as the President and Managing Partner of TMA+Peritus. Prior to starting the agency in 1983, Tom was the VP of Marketing and Advertising for Bally Corporation in Chicago. He was also President of Bally's multimillion-dollar in-house ad agency FFC Advertising.

The newspaper industry is in dire straits. We know this because newspapers are the primary source for telling us that the only Dire Straits is the British rock band with Mark Knopfler and Pick Withers – who, with a name like that, you’d think would be a guitarist, but he’s really a percussionist. Dire Straits hit a curve and folded tent in 1995; the newspaper industry will pretty much do the same.

Although many jobs have been lost, and many fine journalists are still looking for journalism jobs – which is sort of like the typewriter salesman weighing offers from Yellow Page publishers and fax machine manufacturers – there is hope for dozens of these beat reporters who are reportedly beat. It’s content marketing, and if they’d focus their talents toward the new sweet spot, we’d get dozens of people off the dole.

Content marketing is gaining a lot of interest in these parts, as it should. For those who need a definition to embrace a concept, let’s just say it’s a marketing strategy of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action. Did I hear someone say, “Job creation and opportunity knocking for journalists”?

Sure, you need to be a good writer to be a great content marketer. But, if you’re a journalist, you need to change three requisites that were prerequisites in your former life as a journalist, and now, your new life as a content marketer. First, no longer are you reporting the news – dude, you are the news. How great a transformation is that? You will now be the thought leader behind the thought leadership movement. With the help of your corporate associates, customers, and guest opinion-makers, you’ll be distributing content – objective content, that is, and you know something about objectivity – to people who are so enthralled with what you are saying that they look forward to receiving your marketing materials. Another transformation.

Second, I have three letters for the AP Stylebook: O-U-T. And let me tell you that the Chicago Manual of Style has found a new home: wiping up the juice from an Italian beef sandwich from Mr. Beef on Orleans Street. I’ll take mine dipped and sweet, and that’s on the record. As content marketers, we don’t have a style, we have an approach.

Third, we believe headlines are a significant part of the content. In your previous life, someone wrote the headlines for you, and they sucked, and you knew they sucked. A great headline is a lead-in to great content. Trash the notion of a headline getting in the way of a story, and trash-talk the person who excelled at boring headline writing. In fact, why don’t we just go with – Boring Headline Writers’ Union Busted for Collectively Trying to Bargain for Really Bad Headlines. And don’t forget the subhead, we like those, too – Retirements on the Rise, Readers Rejoice.

I’m doing my part to create jobs by creating awareness about the importance of content marketing. Hey, if you’re not content marketing, you’re not marketing. So, let’s get out there and publish some compelling copy, some terrific text, some captivating content. But don’t ever call it verbiage – that’ll make a content marketer wince.

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