Content marketing – a skill you absolutely must have to succeed

by Ivan Mazour

energy-of-the-future-ivan-mazourEver since I can remember, my father has been writing books. His work is hugely demanding, of both time and energy, and yet he always found additional time to put together comprehensive tomes on a variety of highly complex topics from clean energy to arctic exploration. Once I moved here and learned English, I was promptly drafted in to be the editor of the English version of each book, to make sure that it was translated correctly and set the right tone for the British and American readers.

The books would be encyclopedic in their scope, stretching to almost a thousand pages, and the resources required to produce them were immense. Teams of researchers would scour all cutting edge literature to get a complete understanding of the subject and then handpick the perfect material for the book. My father would spend months putting it together and pushing the knowledge forward with his own thoughts and opinions. It would take years of time and significant capital to produce and publish each one.

And once this was done, the books would be sold in only very small volumes. A quick mental calculation shows that these projects could never have financially justified the number of hours my father was putting into them, if you based it on the market rate for his time. So I could never really understand the point. He is an academic, with a combined PhD in Engineering and Ecology, so I could understand the desire to push the boundaries of a certain subject, but it all seemed rather at odds with his innately business-oriented approach to life.

Recently I began formulating the marketing plan for Ometria, and started to look for a Marketing Manager. When we first started trying to get customers, we tried a typical direct marketing approach – we put together a database of decision makers, got their e-mail addresses and started sending out proposals to set up a meeting and discuss a free trial of our software. This got us nowhere, since e-commerce people are simply inundated with work, and even if our software was exactly what they needed, they would not have the time to read a marketing e-mail or set up a meeting. So we started to learn about how the best SaaS companies solve this problem.

Content marketing turns the entire marketing strategy on its head. Instead of writing messages with a specific offer and request, you produce content that is useful and educating in nature – content on a subject that you know well, and that your customers want to learn about. Instead of interrupting the reader and trying to force them to pay attention, by producing genuinely valuable content which does not ask for anything in return, you educate the people you are reaching out to, providing them with value and gaining mindshare for yourself and your company. Instead of a small proportion accepting the offer in your direct marketing message, a large proportion increase their appreciation for your company and its reputation within the industry. Over time, they become more likely to want to reach out and speak with you, rather than less likely as they would be if they kept receiving unsolicited marketing messages.

So as I continued to interview people, waiting for someone to tell me that they understood the value of this approach and were able to successfully execute it, it got me thinking back to my father’s books. He never really cared about how much money he made from them. But books like “Oil and Gas – A World History” were sent to the top 500 CEOs of companies in that industry, and then gifted by him personally to important people he had meetings with. Decades ago, before the internet, and before the proliferation of blogs and social media, he already understood the concept of content marketing. Other CEOs may have had similar roles and experience, but after reading his books, none could compete with him as an expert in his field.

We all have a subject or area that we want to become the best in, and aspire to be seen as experts and leaders in it. The quicker we understand the value of content marketing, the quicker we will get there.


Find out more on the about Ivan Mazour page.
And watch Ivan Mazour's TEDx Talk - "Why we shouldn't be scared of sharing our personal data".

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