The problems of content marketing apply to you as a marketer whether you’re actually practicing “content marketing” or not.
In any enterprise, there’s a New York Times-scale amount of content getting produced.[i] And your customers are hoovering up content (from a brand or otherwise, in many channels, interchangably) and making decisions based upon it.[ii]
That means you’re in the content business. And the more customers control the purchase path, the more marketers find themselves in the content marketing business.
Which means you will be dealing with the problems content marketing creates. Two of these problems are particular to marketing teams and governance. These are best explained with analogies:
The Menu Problem – How content gets conceived and planned
The Sausage Problem – How content gets made and delivered
The Menu Problem
Marketers don’t have much experience running editorial organizations. This is best reflected in the low percentage of marketers who report that they follow a content marketing strategy.[iii]
A strategy is necessary.[iv] And no one is taking the responsibility to make one.
To return to the food metaphor, a content strategy is the menu of content. Someone must determine the cuisine (editorial focus), the dishes (formats), the elements of the dishes (resources) and the experience they’re meant to create (objectives and metrics). Today, menu creation is either the accidental byproduct of a series of campaigns or invented de facto by one or more agencies, with a limited purview. This is no fine dining experience.
Someone must have responsibility for the menu – the question remains who, and why? Our research points to two key individuals: 1) a marketing leader with responsibility for a specific customer segment and 2) a content marketing chief to advise, inspire, assist, and enable that marketing leader, and others like her.
It makes sense for the marketer who owns the marketing strategy to also own the content marketing that impacts that strategy. This is governed by a marketing leader with responsibility for a particular customer segment.
Further, we’ve spoken with many organizations that possessed a content marketing chief, whose job is to turn the entire business into a content marketing superpower, one marketing leader at a time.
The Sausage Problem
It’s not a pretty analogy, but content’s the sausage and someone’s got to make it, or at least find it, buy it, and serve it. Salary statistics from The Creative Group tell us this can get pricy: A copywriter with only 5 years of experience starts at $78,000; a web content writer at $64,500; and even lowly bloggers at $43,000.
In order to keep things efficient, we urge marketers to assemble broad cross-channel resources for content creation, curation, or collection (then open up for sharing of those resources team to team). That means, in most instances, no “standing content team” but rather an adaptable collection of resources.
The underlying organizational structure is one we call the Marketing Operating System. This structure, and how it applies to content marketing, menu creation, and sausage-making, is featured in my latest report on content marketing and the marketing organization: Valuable Content Is Every Marketing Team's Job.
Marketing leaders, assisted by content marketing chiefs, plan menus.
Adaptable and shared resources deliver the sausage.
Menu and sausage. Get that right and you’re getting the organization piece right.
[i] I suspect that many large enterprises are several factors higher: an NYT2 or NYT3.
[ii] The head of analytics at Visible Measures (an agency that’s measured the performance of 17,000+ branding campaigns) told me about their analysis of P&G’s “Thank You Mum” branded content campaigns around the London and Sochi Olympics:
We found that the marketing metric was influenced most by the overall volume of content consumption where people opt in [click on content]…brands with a dominant share of those opt-in views in their category for a particular quarter will translate into actual sales gains.
They’ve since seen the same across many consumer goods categories. What this means: There’s evidence that if more people are clicking on a particular brand’s content compared to competitors, that brand will later sell more product compared to competitors (and not just from among the admittedly small “clickling population”).
[iv] The business case report for Forrester’s playbook on content marketing describes a few key values coming out of a specific content marketing strategy, including efficiency of working (media) and nonworking (production) dollars, brand storytelling and improved experiences across the customer life cycle.