Tom Gerace is founder, CEO, and director at Skyword, a company that offers organizations a content production platform as well as content creation and editorial services. Previously, Tom founded news and entertainment site and Be Free, the first affiliate marketing company (acquired by ValueClick in 2002 for $128 million).

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I invited Tom to Marketing Smarts to talk about content strategy for organizations and what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.

Here are just a few highlights from our conversation:

Companies need to create great content, and lots of it(5:04): "Brands can no longer get into all of those [social] streams.... They need to change how they market in the digital space because consumer behavior has changed so radically.... It's no longer sufficient to create a great piece of content once a quarter that describes your product. Content marketing's all about figuring out what your consumers need at different stages of their buying cycle, and that goes way beyond your brand."

Effective content strategy starts with listening and goes beyond curation (10:08): "It really starts with a lot of listening and a lot of analytics up front, doing a really deep dive on search analytics and social analytics to figure out your customers' information needs.... Then you say 'who's the best group to create original content for us...' If brand marketing is all about differentiation, then while curation might be an easier way to do content marketing, original content creation is the only way to differentiate your brand.... That's how brands create stuff that's unique, that's going to bring customers in every day, and that's going to build a relationship with them."

Monitor the metrics that matter (15:47) "Everybody wants to measure reach, and that's important. You can use broad tools like Google Analytics or (Adobe) Omniture to do that. What happens when you get past that first set of stats, though, is that you really want to measure other things that tell you whether not you're achieving your core goals.... If it is brand exposure, then you want to know 'am I reaching the right audience.' If it is building affinity, then you want to know 'are those folks sticking around? Are they doing more stuff, like downloading whitepapers or attending webinars?' If you're down the ought to be measuring through to conversion."

The secret to entrepreneurial success is obsession (22:13): "It's probably two parts luck, one part obsession.... You spend a lot of time obsessed with what's working and what's not, obsessed with fixing the things that aren't. Building a successful company is 100% an endurance game.... The vast majority of successful companies out there are built through a process of endurance, where an entrepreneur goes into a field that they think they understand, builds a product, figures out what they got wrong, adapts that product or service offering, does it again and does it again and does it again, and eventually hones their offering to meet a large market need that can be profitable, and that's a process of learning by running full speed into walls sometimes. It requires somebody who's going to...become obsessed with what they're doing, think about it at three in the morning, put it as a top priority above a lot of other things, and just refuse to fail at it. And refuse to fail even when it's really, really hard, and you'd like to just pack it up and go to the Cape and sip drinks in the summer.... You've got to be a little bit crazy to want to do this."

For more information, visit Skyword's website——or follow Tom Gerace on Twitter: @TomGerace.

Tom and I covered a lot more ground, so be sure to listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!

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Music credit: Noam Weinstein.

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