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21.1.15

Leading women in content marketing

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By Kath Walters

Women are among the leading lights of the emerging field of content marketing, says Sarah Mitchell, a former journalist, who is one among those women.

Mitchell, the head of content strategy at Perth agency Lush Digital Media, can instantly produce a list of 16 women she follows who are “at the top of their game”, including seven in Australia [see list at the end of this story].

Mitchell, an American who moved with her husband to Australia in 2002, was an early adopter of content as a marketing tool. She recalls first using “content” in 1996. But it was during five years spent in direct sales for a computer software company that she refined this strategy to support her consultative approach to selling. “I would speak to clients all day but I didn’t have anything to leave them. I would go back to the office at night and write case studies and white papers.”

leadership

Mitchell later came across the writings of Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute in the US. “He really made a lot of sense to me,” she says. “I knew developing content was going to be a good business opportunity for me.”

As a freelancer in Perth, Mitchell shared clients with Lush Digital Media before she took up her role there. She was creating content strategies and implementing them; Lush was making their videos.

“Lush spent a long time getting to understand content marketing and felt that was the area to move into,” Wilson says. “My problem was whenever I wanted to put something together, I didn’t have a team. They didn’t have the strategy background or writing, which was my area.”

She has been consulting to Lush full-time for the past six months.

Content marketing gains status, but it’s not all good

In her experience – Mitchell has lived on five continents and worked in corporate environments in six – Australia is behind other countries in adopting content marketing.

“In 2010, no one [here] was talking about content marketing; they didn’t know what I was talking about,” says Mitchell. “In 2012, we were still doing awareness programs.”

In the past year, however, Mitchell says things have changed. Content Marketing World, an annual Sydney event that started in 2013, last year drew a crowd of about 400 people. This year’s event is expected to be bigger again.

But Mitchell says many agencies claiming to do content marketing – such as former SEO, social media marketing and advertising agencies – have not really changed their business model, they have simply renamed it.

The journalist’s viewpoint

“What we really do is tell stories with a media mindset,” says Mitchell. “That is how James Lush, co-founder and co-director of Lush Digital Media, puts it.”

Mitchell stresses the agency’s journalistic credentials: co-founders James and Alex Lush both worked in BBC radio.

The most important element of successful content marketing is strategy, Mitchell says. “I am not interested in doing piecemeal work. We help clients develop a strategy, and then content around that strategy. I can write dozens of blog posts – and it’s the same with video and podcasting – but if there is no strategy attached to it, ultimately it is not very effective.”

Mitchell says many companies “dip their toe in the water” and give up when they don’t get instant results. “We know for sure that businesses that have a documented strategy and follow it are more successful than those who don’t. It is a slow-burn process. It can take 12-18 months to see results, which is a long time, and [often] people quit before they see return on investment.”

Sarah Mitchell and James Lush will be speakers at this year’s Content Marketing World in Sydney from March 16-18.

Sarah Mitchell’s watch-list of top women in content marketing

Global

  • Clare McDermott – managing editor of Chief Content Officer magazine
  • Michele Linn – vice-president of content at CMI
  • Cathy McPhillips – marketing director at CMI
  • Pam Kozelka – vice-president of operations at CMI
  • Pam Didner – global content marketing strategist/author (formerly at Intel)
  • Jeannine Rossignol – vice-president, marketing services for Large Enterprise Operations – US, Xerox
  • Julie Fleischer – director, data + content + media, Kraft Foods Group
  • Ardath Albee – B2B marketing strategist, author
  • Ann Handley – chief content officer, author, MarketingProfs
  • Amanda Gome – Head of digital and social media, ANZ
  • Bobbi Mahlab – managing director, Mahlab Media
  • Belinda Weaver – owner at Copywrite Matters
  • Bernadette Jiwa – author, founder, The Story of Telling
  • Jodie Sangster – CEO, ADMA
  • Lauren Quaintance – head of content, Storyation
  • Alana Fisher – senior digital strategist, content marketing strategist (formerly of American Express and AMP)

Australian

  • Amanda Gome – Head of digital and social media, ANZ
  • Bobbi Mahlab – managing director, Mahlab Media
  • Belinda Weaver – owner at Copywrite Matters
  • Bernadette Jiwa – author, founder, The Story of Telling
  • Jodie Sangster – CEO, ADMA
  • Lauren Quaintance – head of content, Storyation
  • Alana Fisher – senior digital strategist, content marketing strategist (formerly of American Express and AMP)
 

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