The Rise of the Chief Content Officer

March 14, 2013

Joe Pulizzi is ready to see good storytellers take control of the b-to-b marketing narrative. The founder and CEO of the Content Marketing Institute will lead a panel session of creative voices at the Global BMA Conference in Chicago. The line-up includes Michael Brenner, senior director-marketing and content strategy at SAP; Jodi Navta, VP-marketing and communications at Coyote Logistics, and Todd Wheatland, VP-head of thought leadership and marketing at Kelly Outsourcing and Consulting Group. Pulizzi shares the lessons marketers can learn from publishing companies, the value of selecting one central storyteller and why it doesn’t matter what we call that person.

Buzz: Business marketers are spending more on content marketing programs. Where are they investing, and where should they be investing?

Joe Pulizzi: Well over 50% of b-to-b marketers are increasing their investment in content marketing. We're seeing much more focus on blogs, videos and mobile content. The problem right now is that a lot of b-to-b marketers are filling buckets. They are identifying channels like LinkedIn or SlideShare, and then populating those channels with what they hope is engaging content. But marketers need to be investing in strategy. Nine in 10 b-to-b marketers don't have a documented content strategy. Without a content marketing mission, how do we know whether or not we are moving the business in the right direction? Strategy will be the big direction for 2013 and beyond — a more thoughtful approach to content creation. 

Buzz: Why do these initiatives call for changes to the structure of the marketing team?

Pulizzi: Although it's moving at a relatively slow pace in larger b-to-b organizations, we are seeing the marketing department evolve to look and feel like a publishing organization. Marketers are hired not only for their marketing ability, but also for their storytelling prowess. This will only increase. Most b-to-b organizations and marketers are inherently bad storytellers, and in order to be noticed and create subscription opportunities with our customers, we need engaging stories on a consistent basis.

Buzz: How do you make the case for a chief content officer? Do executives recognize the need for the position?

Pulizzi: Although I believe a lot of organizations would benefit from a CCO position, it's something that could be filled by a current position. For example, I consider Todd Wheatland a CCO, but his title is VP-thought leadership. It's not the title, it's the role. So, if there is no caretaker for the content strategy in the organization, then yes, we need one. Content creation is critical to all marketing in a b-to-b environment. Most CMO's don't have the publishing or storytelling background to understand the real content needs in the organization, so something is needed. Most b-to-b organizations are just becoming aware of this kind of need. B-to-c organizations are jumping on it quicker, as Petco just hired their first CCO.

Buzz:Are the numbers on the rise?

Pulizzi: It's small, but growing. You see them in titles like head of content strategy, content marketing director and VP-integrated media. Actually, all those titles are fine, as long as they have the decision-making authority to work with content channel heads throughout the organization, such as email, social, search, etc. I believe at some point in the next five years, literally all b-to-b organizations will have someone who owns the content creation process. But it will also take some pain to get there.


"The Rise of the Chief Content Officer."  BMA Buzz. 3/14/13.