Copyblogger’s Simone on How to Save Your Soul in Marketing [INTERVIEW]

This post is part of the Content Q&A Series, featuring interviews with top content strategists and bloggers about their work and insights about the industry.

Sonia Simone is chief marketing officer at Copyblogger Media, which she helped found in 2010.

Simone is also a core member of the Third Tribe, part marketing-strategy consultancy and part marketing concept that believes that hype and snake oils do not make for good online campaigns.

Before signing on with Copy Blogger, Simone worked in and around the world of traditional corporate marketing enough to know what it is, what she doesn’t like, and how she chooses to use content promote her clients.

The Content Strategist caught up with Simone recently, talking with her about how she sees the world of social media and online marketing right now.

The Content Strategist: You’ve said: “The kind of marketing I do doesn’t require you to choose between your soul and the success of your business.” So, in the sorting of safely kept souls and ambitious, successful businesses, where does content come out?

Sonia Simone: The best content comes out of a relationship between the business and the customer — great content solves real problems and becomes a trusted resource.

Content, when it’s done well, has independent value to the audience, not just value to the business that created it.

TCS: Keeping with that idea: To your eye, has content marketing grown up, or is it still clunking consumers over the head with old-school product pitches?

Simone: Really good content marketing isn’t new — the best catalogs have been doing it for many decades.

It’s evolving now, for sure, as the Web evolves, but I don’t think it’s all grown up yet.

There are still interesting new formats to be invented, I’m sure.

TCS: So, what might come after content; that is, content as we now know it?

Simone: I’m sure the forms will evolve. And of course, platforms will come and go. In five years, will Facebook still be relevant? No one knows for certain.

Formats evolve, sharing technologies evolve, but Web users are always going to want something interesting to read or view.

The evolution just comes from paying attention to what that audience wants to see.

TCS: Five years into the future, do you think CMOs are going to talk about online content as a bubble that burst, as something that they used to pay for?

Simone: Most businesspeople don’t realize that content has been an effective advertising strategy for more than a century. The Michelin Guides were created in 1900 to encourage motoring vacations … and thus the consumption of the company’s car tires.

The well-written catalog, the white paper, even the informercial, are all tried and true forms of content marketing. It’s just the term that’s a fad. The underlying structure, advertising that has independent value to the customer, isn’t going anywhere.

As we get into a more advertising-saturated environment, we’re all going to have to create advertising that our audiences choose to consume. That’s why content has become such a buzzword; consumers aren’t captive audiences any more. They have to be wooed.

TCS: Who would you say are the best critics of what content marketers do? Are we listening to them?

Simone: The best critics are our customers. If it’s working for them, it’s working. Don’t listen to anyone else.

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