In the words of the A-Team’s John “Hannibal” Smith: “I love it when a plan comes together!”

In this case “the plan” was more of a general aggravation and fear that lingered over four months and ended with a simple answer for saving Content Marketing from itself before it’s too late.
Does it need saving, you ask?

I think it does. Why? Content in my sometimes-humble opinion has been kidnapped from the words information or knowledge as a way to capture marketing budget, justify headcount and hopefully generate leads that don’t get kicked back from sales as worthless.

I’ve spent equal parts of my career in the information management and information creation and distribution worlds long enough to be literally at war with myself. The conflict is one we as marketers and the people we market to all face: too much information coming at us from everyplace we lay our eyes or lend our ears actually retards our decision-making process. And yet, there is a very real need for our companies to share the information that helps people solve problems and hopefully, buy products as an end result. So … yeah … it’s taken four months to figure this out but the answer is …

But first … a Twitter beat down and a hand up

I took to the socialsphere for answers. It’s a place I tend to go off half-cocked with intent. This was no exception.

I proposed to people in the content field I trust and admire with:

“Is Content Marketing on its way to becoming B.S?”
Needless to say … people like Lee Odden at Top Rank rightfully put me in my place with “It’s sweeping generalizations that are B.S.” with an RT +1 from m’pal @CarmenHill All stiff arms deserved and welcomed.

Admittedly, articulating a point on content glut and how to save the term “Content Marketing” from itself – if it’s worth saving — in 140 characters is perilous at best. Other bright minds like Eric Wittlake offered guidance (probably because he felt sorry for me) on saving not necessarily content marketing from itself but people from being a part of the info-glut problem, in this way:

3. Stop thinking YOU will be THE source. Become a valued participant.  @wittlake 28 Aug

2. Google your “brand new” idea first. It probably isn’t new .  @wittlake 28 Aug

1. Stop publishing just because you “should”  @wittlake 28 Aug

Read  #1 again. Great, right? That was back in August. It wasn’t until Joe Pulizzi from the Content Marketing Institute made an appearance in my hometown earlier this month that I found the answer that could help us all help others. Brace yourself. The answer is …

Now … exactly what you didn’t want to hear

Don’t do anything.

– Don’t blog.

– Don’t hammer out an eBook

– Don’t shoot a video

– Don’t schedule a webinar

– Don’t take to Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook … until you do this first.

The answer, my friends … is “Have a point.”

OK … Joe didn’t actually say “have a point” but it was close.

He said: Develop a content mission statement.

When I’ve had to develop a content mission it usually starts with a series of questions:

– Who do I want to read the information I am creating?

– What do I want them to do with it?

– Where do I think they will most likely encounter this information?

– How will I deliver this information so it gets consumed?

– After this information is consumed, what next step do I want my people to take?

– What does “Mission Accomplished” look like?

I’ll give you an example of a mission statement created from these questions that you can steal, amend or ridicule as you see fit.

Who:  Chief Security Officers of Fortune 500 companies

What: Develop a business case for the CFO to purchase security products that keep data safe

Where: In IT security communities online and off, including LinkedIn, Twitter and live events

What Now?

What’s the next step? A completed presentation to hand off to the CFO with an organizational and financial business case for making a purchase decision.

Mission Accomplished = A perpetual increase in content requests, Resource Center/Download Center web traffic, speaking engagements and marketing qualified leads

Mission Statement: All information created and shared online and off with our customers and prospects has this objective: To help the chief security officer do their jobs more confidently, secure the budget for products and services he or she needs to keep company data safe, and, ultimately, spend more time with their families.
See the clutter that clears up for you as a content person when someone says we need a new blog post on Product X? or an eBook on Solution Y?

Read it. Learn it. Live it.

Here’s Joe’s Slideshare that I’m told is similar to the presentation I saw this month in Portland, Oregon, where he shows examples of mission statements that drive content strategy. Hint: “Get more leads” isn’t in there, but something like “help our customers do their jobs better and quickly take action” is.

Can a mission statement for our content efforts save us all from information overload and poor decisions? Is Joe Pulizzi the Jerry Maguire of Content Marketing?

Too early to tell, but I certainly hope so.