With a vast number of technology companies in a 25-mile span, Silicon Valley is a hotbed of B2B content innovation. Indeed, the group of content professionals from companies including NetApp, VMware and Intel Security who joined me for a recent roundtable certainly were engaged, opinionated and full of ideas. All came prepared to discuss challenges, successes and stretch goals. I’m pleased to share some key takeaways from this insightful group around content topics all agreed were challenging: cross-functional collaboration, linking the brand- and product-level narratives, and content cost and ROI.
- The collaboration conundrum. Everyone concurred that getting cross-functional agreement on content strategy, creation and execution is arduous. The group shared excellent suggestions on driving collaboration, even while citing it as a challenge. First, participants agreed that documenting and supporting clear responsibilities associated with any collaboration effort is imperative to success. Identifying a common challenge and forming a cross-functional content council to tackle the challenge was one solution. The trick, one participant explained, is to get specific with council participants on the value they’ll receive by participating (e.g. saving time or program dollars in the long run). Another participant suggested ensuring that the council’s objectives include some quick wins to demonstrate value quickly. Another idea: Run a pilot program and use program success to kick off a collaboration effort that extends the program across the organization. People like to participate in efforts that have already shown results. Linking a collaboration initiative to a larger corporate change initiative also was highlighted as a way to give a cross-functional team “permission” to commit to a new mission. Attendees agreed that collaboration pursuits must operate with transparency – inclusion in decisionmaking and milestone review is key.
- Crafting a connected corporate narrative from brand to product. Participants agreed that linking brand and product messaging is especially difficult when multiple products, audiences and vertical industries are at play. A value proposition founded on being all things to all people is rarely effective. Adding to the difficulty is the long list of internal stakeholders who want their voices heard in messaging and narrative development. Ideas shared included defining roles and responsibilities in a corporate narrative initiative (e.g. clarify the difference between a role that provides input vs. one that has decisionmaking authority). The process needs an executive champion and clear timeline, often associated with a sales deliverable (e.g. updated sales presentation deck). All participants agreed that the connected narrative should focus on common business challenges, not product specifics. A modular approach, in which product or audience sub-narratives are made available along with the corporate narrative, was noted as a way to meet the needs of diverse internal stakeholders.
- Content cost and ROI. Cited by some participants as one of the hardest challenges to overcome, content cost and ROI were recognized as highly variable depending on content definitions. It’s difficult to get all siloes that are producing content to measure cost and return the same way, and organizations still may not consider the internal resource investment as part of the equation. One participant with product content responsibilities joked that content is usually presented to his team as “only needing a 10-minute review” when this rarely is the case. We talked about ways to create common resource assumptions by validating time spent on past content creation of like assets. Also noted was the fact that content often is requested and/or created without a specific, measurable objective. Participants agreed that the most critical issue in addressing ROI is establishing consistent KPIs across content, and ensuring the impact of those KPIs is understood. The group agreed that, while some measurements are made available, the translation to value and impact on the business is often lacking. Consensus on this issue was clear – understanding what success looks for content is paramount.
If you’re a Strategic Communications Management client interested in hosting a content roundtable with a group of your peers and a SiriusDecision’s analyst, please contact your sales representative.