The State of Enterprise Content Marketing - 2015

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This overview is informed greatly by the discussion at our Executive Forum in March 2015, but it also is
the culmination of our observations from Content Marketing World 2014 and our advisory client work in
the past year.

Our objective is to report on the key challenges faced by marketers, the vital insights being realized, and
the general health of content marketing as a strategic business approach. As was the case last year, this overview ultimately asks more questions than it answers; our goal is not to settle debates or provide trite answers to complex business challenges, but to update and inform.

At the two-day Executive Forum, CMI leaders and senior marketing executives from more than 30 enterprise brands came together to collaborate and to discuss and report on their own organizations’ efforts in integrating content marketing as a strategic approach.

The extraordinary insights and the identification of challenges could not have been possible without the
generous contributions of this forum class, as well as last year’s forum participants. Their input doesn’t represent their tacit endorsement of the ideas, but as a collective group they are responsible for the value contained in this report.

Published in: Marketing

The State of Enterprise Content Marketing - 2015

  1. 1. THE STATE OF ENTERPRISE CONTENT MARKETING – 2015 CONTENT MARKETING INSTITUTE’S EXECUTIVE FORUM JUNE 2015
  2. 2. 2 Hello marketers, I hope you’re having a tremendously prosperous 2015. Content Marketing Institute is honored to present our second annual The State of Enterprise Content Marketing. This overview is informed greatly by the discussion at our Executive Forum in March 2015, but it also is the culmination of our observations from Content Marketing World 2014 and our advisory client work in the past year. Our objective is to report on the key challenges faced by marketers, the vital insights being realized, and the general health of content marketing as a strategic business approach. As was the case last year, this overview ultimately asks more questions than it answers; our goal is not to settle debates or provide trite answers to complex business challenges, but to update and inform. At the two-day Executive Forum, CMI leaders and senior marketing executives from more than 30 enterprise brands came together to collaborate and to discuss and report on their own organizations’ efforts in integrating content marketing as a strategic approach. The extraordinary insights and the identification of challenges could not have been possible without the generous contributions of this forum class, as well as last year’s forum participants. Their input doesn’t represent their tacit endorsement of the ideas, but as a collective group they are responsible for the value contained in this report. On with the content marketing revolution . . . Robert Rose Chief Strategy Officer Content Marketing Institute PREFACE
  3. 3. 3 The 30 senior marketers from enterprise brands at the second annual Executive Forum are truly the authors of this update on the state of enterprise content marketing – they contributed to two days of candid, strategic, and important discussions about the practice within their businesses. While this document doesn’t approach the quality of the interaction among the executives, it does summarize the key challenges and critical insights shared by the leaders. Ultimately, this report serves as our stake in the ground for the State of Enterprise Content Marketing for 2015. And, as we try to navigate the re-engineering of marketing processes more broadly, it can help as a waypoint. In the spirit of the Executive Forum, all quotes are attributed to the discussion at large and no one individual. Each section covers a summary of insights and ongoing challenges. N A V I G A T I N G T H E S T A T E O F C O N T E N T M A R K E T I N G
  4. 4. 4 Is content marketing a strategic differentiator? In The End of the Competitive Advantage, Rita Gunther McGrath vividly illustrates that all competitive advantages are now transient. This fact, she contends, is fairly well understood. We concur. Content itself will never be a sustainable competitive advantage or differentiator. Instead, we as marketers need to change our perspective, and understand that WE are the competitive advantage. Our ability as a marketing team (no matter the size) to come together, de-silo from our 1.0 shells, and emerge as a more dynamicand fluid force is the essential foundation for our next successful marketing strategy. Our ability to move in and out of “arenas,” as McGrath calls them, and create temporary advantages will be the critical determinant of success. First, we should ask ourselves if we truly believe that compelling, engaging, useful, and dynamic content- driven experiences ultimately will move the business forward. If our answer is “yes,” then the strategic value lies in our ability to repeatedly and consistently evolve to create the valuable stories. This has many implications:  Businesses must stop organizing and scaling content based on platforms, technologies, and inside-looking-out views of the customer journey. Successful marketing departments will become integrated and skilled at creating and managing content-driven experiences. The format and placement of these experiences on multiple channels always will be temporal.  Successful businesses will no longer have a singular view of content as fuel to support marketing campaigns. Instead, they will evolve and begin looking at changing marketing into a function that increasingly supports the fluid use of content to create and support better customer experiences.  The successful plan of tomorrow will be powered by an ability to constantly reconfigure efforts and manage a portfolio of content-driven experiences. When a particular experience is no longer advantageous to the business, the team will not lean on a “that’s-the-way-it’s-always-been-done” mentality, but will healthily disengage and dismantle the outmoded experience. I N T R O D U C T I O N – C O N T E N T I S C H A N G E
  5. 5. 5 No, content is not a sustainable differentiator. It’s change. Marketers who know how to adapt the business’ content-driven experiences as their audiences and opportunities evolve will more capably ensure long-term competitive advantage. This was the emerging theme at the Executive Forum. Our discussion of content marketing centered on the fact that marketers no longer need to build a business case for connecting the company’s ability to innovate with content to marketing success. It seems, for the most part, that argument has been won. The challenge now is fixed solidly on how to execute and scale this content change. The question is no longer how we change content to suit marketing’s purpose, but rather how we change marketing to suit content’s purpose. As Jonathan Mildenhall, then Vice President of Global Advertising Strategy and Creative Excellence for Coca-Cola, said to me two years ago, he could not change anything about the iconic nature of the packaging or the product of Coca-Cola. He focused instead on building the experiential media and conversation around that product. As he said: “Coca-Cola can be viewed as a huge media brand with amazing reach and frequency. The question we ask ourselves is, ‘Can we use our assets as content, and can we create content out of our assets?’” He changed his marketing strategy to fit a content purpose. This is one of the keys to marketing strategy in the world in which we live. This is the change to which we can strive.
  6. 6. 6 We see the need for scaling content marketing across the entirety of the funnel. Yet, many businesses still begin their journey with the very top of the funnel. Some of the key questions that prompted this discussion were:  Are B2B marketers jumping into sales and/or demonstrations too soon in the funnel?  Do businesses let their fear of losing prospects prompt them to jump the gun and label people who are simply interested in learning more as “leads”?  Why are marketing organizations stuck in a campaign mentality? Do we need to change the way we measure our marketing teams’ success? KEY INSIGHT: Marketing organizations are letting technology drive their strategy. Many times, the available content, email, and lead-nurturing tools propel and direct the process more than the marketing team does. In other words, are marketing teams myopically focused on conversions because that’s the only way tools prove their worth, or because that’s the way that marketing teams prove their worth? KEY INSIGHT: Campaigns are the construct of marketing. Customers don’t think, “Give me a campaign.” They want a great ongoing experience. We need to expand beyond the limitations of the campaign mindset and into a more “always-on” mindset that keeps the focus on the customer journey. KEY INSIGHT: Technology can prove that we are touching the customer, but we almost never focus on how we are touching the customer. Marketers are too stuck in implementing activities and don’t think enough about how to make an impact in someone’s life. How many marketing goals are structured by the quantity of content produced (e.g., produce 12 white papers this year) rather than the quality of the content’s impact (e.g., get 100 executives to see the brand as a trusted resource because our content helped them improve their productivity processes). T H E M E O N E : E V O LV I N G CO N T E N T M A R K E T I N G F O R T H E T O P O F T H E F U N N E L
  7. 7. 7 Ultimately, the conclusion is that content marketers need to be able to:  Step back and truly understand the different relationships that different audiences have with content  Stand firm as to when it should be appropriate to enter into that sales conversation (In short, downloading a white paper or having five interactions with branded content does not a qualified opportunity make.) Perhaps content marketing should become a separate process for organizations so businesses look differently at its engagement cycle. Marketers also may want to stop making content marketing seem more efficient or cheaper than traditional marketing and advertising. It may not be. When we embrace content marketing as a distinct process, we understand it may cost more and take more time, but we see its true worth in creating more valuable customers. These content-driven people are likely to spend more, be stronger advocates, and stay longer. THE BIG IDEA
  8. 8. 8 The next discussion centers squarely on the operational future of content marketing. We started off by examining these questions:  Why do marketers rarely look at the conversion from the top to the bottom of the funnel, and see that view as a sales function?  How does this structure hinder the understanding of who owns the customer at a particular stage of the process?  How can a brand become a trusted adviser in a sector littered with disruption?  How can you build a media company within an enterprise marketing organization? KEY INSIGHT: Trusted-adviser status is not static. It is a spectrum – an emotional journey – not an intellectual destination. Therefore, even in a thought-leadership approach, marketers must view building trust as a multi-tiered process that appeals to both heart and head. KEY INSIGHT: People buy because they feel that the brand “gets” them and understands what they need. People want to feel valued – often that has nothing to do with the product or service. KEY INSIGHT: Building a media organization within a company requires different KPIs or it will be built as a marketing team would. The difference is critical. The business should build a marketing function into a media (content) function – not the other way around. T H E M E T W O : ORGANIZING A MEDIA OPERATION INSIDE OF AN ENTERPRISE COMPANY
  9. 9. 9 Separate the content marketing team physically from the rest of marketing. Both the goals and investment model should be different for this team – and physically separating them from other teams that are focused on “persuasive marketing” can help to temper the culture clash of these concerns. Regardless of how the team is structured, content marketing should have different KPIs for the content-driven experiences it creates, and these KPIs should contribute to other parts of the marketing journey. THE BIG IDEA KEY INSIGHT: The amount of data from an engaged, addressable audience is staggering. That alone can build the business case for a media organization to exist within an enterprise.
  10. 10. 10 The third theme at Executive Forum centers on the cultural and procedural challenges of scaling the process of content marketing in an enterprise. In this discussion, we asked:  How does content marketing establish an actual point of view – that will differentiate, but may also create conflict?  How should different content marketing teams get their start? How can businesses build the function separately, while also maintaining classic marketing responsibilities? KEY INSIGHT: Many people in the 2.0 version of their content marketing programs are looking at how to create missions or strategies that can be communicated through the rest of the enterprise. These missions focus as much on what this team does NOT do, as well as what it does. KEY INSIGHT: A great content team MUST have the ability to go beyond marketing and possess a distinct point of view. The minute the team strays from its point of view because of corporate blowback, the content turns into just “more marketing” rather than great content. KEY INSIGHT: While there are many models for building a content team and processes, the hybrid model seems to have a lot of traction. In the hybrid model, a separate content team also has representation (i.e., roles) within traditional marketing teams. T H E M E T H R E E : SCALING AND MEASURING THE PROCESS OF CONTENT MARKETING
  11. 11. 11 Marketers sometimes have to operate from this mindset: “Break the rules you can break, bend the rules you can bend, and ignore the rules you can ignore.” In most cases, this process is so new that marketers will have to defeat the culture of No. Finding allies can be a great way to create the culture of Yes. If possible, marketers should run their own “secret” start-up where they can form ideas and scale them. If it’s a success, it strengthens the case for creating that culture of Yes. (Note: Marketers shouldn’t pick a single project because that could be viewed as the more traditional campaign-oriented idea.) THE BIG IDEA
  12. 12. 12 Stronger, with a challenging twist of scale. Last year, we proclaimed the forecast for content marketing to be “cloudy with a chance for change.” There was a real and constant struggle to get over the cultural hurdles of starting a content marketing program. Measurability was the biggest issue, and it continues to be an enormous challenge. But in the past year, we’ve seen a lot of progress, and the mood seems considerably improved. Making the business case has evolved from “why start” to “how do we scale” content marketing. From the explosive growth of native advertising to the hard, positive numbers that forward-leaning brands are generating, there can be no mistake – the way brands are using content has begun to transform marketing strategies. We no longer point to Red Bull as the only poster child that’s gone “all in” on content. Now, companies like Marriott are creating in-house content studios. Blue-chip companies like GE are creating television series and long-form content as part of their brand strategies. Brands like Starbucks are partnering with well-heeled journalists to run content initiatives. Credit-card companies like Capital One are acquiring user-experience and content-creation agencies to make their digital customer-experience design an in-house competency. Publishers like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, and Condé Nast have launched content-creation agencies to help brands get good at content. Simultaneously, the complexity of marketing is growing every day:  The customer relationship is more complicated than ever. The idea of customer, conversation, and community is changing. Social media is evolving from an earned media process to a paid media strategy. Owned media is the differentiator, but it seems to have the biggest cultural roadblocks. THE FORECAST FOR ENTERPRISE CONTENT MARKETING
  13. 13. 13 In many ways, marketing is trying to get out of its own way. The value of content marketing seems obvious – to create customer value through the creation of content-driven experiences. But, the business cannot take its eye off the ball in creating direct, revenue-producing activities. Prioritization conflicts abound.  “Content Shock” is more buzz than bite. Yes, it’s noisy out there. Publishing and distribution tools now make anyone a mass publisher. And, yes, in a world where content multiplies exponentially and time remains finite, it’s harder to be remarkable. Yes, a big brand can pay more to rise above the noise, but it cannot pay to have more relevance and value to a customer. It is a leveling of the playing field, not a fix in the game. Noise affects everyone equally. So – the brands that can get “good at content” and deliver value to a highly focused audience will be the ones to succeed. The opportunity for content is not simply an advertising mandate; this is an everything-the-company- communicates mandate. Simply paying for attention will no longer do. We, as marketers, have to hold that attention long enough so that we matter to customers.  The marketing department is more strategic. Businesses tend to look at the advancement of marketing and content with a focus on both hardware and software development. In other words, we look at the development of tablets, mobile phones, or refrigerators with screens as more platforms for which we need to build a team or strategy. Or we see customer aggregation points, such as broadcast television, cable TV, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, or even Ello as software platforms to which we need to assign specialists who will develop unique content strategies. We must realize that there is no way to scale to every channel. The only way to scale is to adapt the marketing department’s structure and purpose around the creation, management, and ultimate flow of information (i.e., content) to both describe and, more importantly, create value for customers.
  14. 14. 14 Marketing doesn’t change content’s purpose. Content changes marketing’s purpose. So, yes, the state of content marketing in 2015 is stronger, with a challenging twist of scale. In many ways, the practice of marketing has to be rebuilt. To meet our expanded remit, marketers are going to have to evolve into something new – a group that not only describes our value but one that creates unique value. As we heard more than once at the Executive Forum, “Success is being driven by acting like a start-up – developing content ‘products.’” Sometimes this is in secrecy and sometimes it’s in the open. What’s clear is that unique, impactful, differentiating, content-driven experiences are becoming as important as product development itself. Successful marketers will adapt and change in a constantly evolving media operation that focuses on creating delightful experiences to inform, entertain, engage, and evolve the customer – that’s the business’ sustainable competitive advantage As for us at CMI – we feel like it’s time to grow this revolution. The first shots have been fired and hit their mark. Now is the time for the charge. Onward.
  15. 15. 15 CMI’s 2015 Executive Forum was made possible with the contribution from these extraordinary business leaders: 3M.............................................................................. Carlos Abler, Leader, Content Marketing and Strategy Agilent Technologies.............................................. Greg Thomas, Manager, Content Strategy Autodesk.................................................................. Dusty DiMercurio, Head of Content Marketing Bank of America..................................................... John von Brachel, Senior Vice President Brady Corporation................................................. Jason Strom, Global Director, Digital Experience Capital Group / American Funds.........................Fred Macri, Content Marketing Lead FedEx........................................................................ Angela Stevens, Small Business Segment/G2M & Content Strategy Hyland Software..................................................... Mickey Mencin, Director of Corporate Communications Intermedia............................................................... Dave Prager, Director of Communications & Creative Services King Content............................................................ Todd Wheatland, Head of Strategy Marketing Interactions, Inc................................... Ardath Albee, CEO Maxim Integrated................................................... Hugh Wright, Director, Technical Marketing NetApp..................................................................... Ruth White-Cabbell, Senior Manager, Worldwide Partner Communications NewsCred................................................................. Russ Bley, Sales NewsCred................................................................. Shafqat Islam, CEO NewsCred................................................................. Steve Pascucci, Director of Sales O.C. Tanner.............................................................. Michelle Smith, Vice President, Marketing Robert Half............................................................... Julie Sims, Vice President, Communications Strategy ShurTech Brands, LLC............................................ David Rodgers, Senior Digital Marketing Manager Sykes Enterprises, Inc............................................ Kirsten Jepson, Senior Director, Market Strategy ThoughtWorks,Inc.................................................. Adam Monago, Vice President, Digital Strategy Type A Communications....................................... Carla Johnson, President U.S. Fund for UNICEF............................................. Francesco De Flaviis, Managing Director, Marketing & Communications UPS............................................................................ Russell Foust, Director, Executive Communications VMware..................................................................... Rich Schwerin, Digital Content Strategist Wells Fargo............................................................... Michael Lopez, Vice President, Social Media Marketing Zuora......................................................................... Gabe Weisert, Content Marketing Manager A C K N O W L E D G E M E N T S
  16. 16. 16 A B O U T C O N T E N T M A R K E T I N G I N S T I T U T E ( C M I ) Content Marketing Institute is the leading global content marketing education and training organization, teaching enterprise brands how to attract and retain customers through compelling, multi- channel storytelling. CMI also runs the Intelligent Content platform focusing on content strategists, and the Content Inc brand platform on entrepreneurs and startups.   CMI’s Content Marketing World event, the largest content marketing-focused event, is held every September in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, and the Intelligent Content Conference event is held every spring. CMI publishes the bi-monthly magazine Chief Content Officer, and provides strategic consulting and content marketing research for some of the best-known brands in the world. CMI is a 2012, 2013 and 2014 Inc. 500 company. Watch this video to learn more about CMI. Get your free subscription of Chief Content Officer, our print magazine for marketing leaders. Join us Content Marketing World from September 8 - 11, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio where we’ll have a track for B2B executives.

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