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New Skills for a New Era of Marketing: Professional Development is Key to Successful Content Marketing


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As a new era of marketing us upon us, is your team prepared? Do they have the content marketing training they need to develop the best strategies, scale for growth, and be able to act on content marketing strategies? Download our latest white paper and participate in our upcoming webinar.

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New Skills for a New Era of Marketing: Professional Development is Key to Successful Content Marketing

  1. 1. NEW SKILLS FOR A NEW ERA OF MARKETING Professional Development Is Key to Successful Content Marketing By Robert Rose
  2. 2. 2 PREFACE – IT’S A NEW ERA OF MARKETING As a marketing tool, content was here to stay once John Deere published The Furrow in 1895. Today, content marketing is an essential business strategy. Unfortunately, most enterprises don’t truly embrace that reality even though the exponential increase in content production indicates they get the content part. Forrester Research predicts that unstructured enterprise content volume is growing at a rate of 200% annually – in other words, the volume of digital assets is doubling each year. Enterprises now function as content factories, producing massive mountains of digital files that land squarely on the back of a content wagon to be delivered to various platforms. But whether the actual content product is of suffi- cient quality to meet enterprise goals depends on how well the content is managed. As the volume of content evolves, so does the marketing industry. Forward-leaning brands recognize quality content production is important, but their future lies in content-driven “experiences.” In our new book, Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing, my co-author Carla Johnson and I write: “In this new era of marketing, unique, impactful, differentiating content-driven experiences will become as important as product development. 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.” At the heart of these rich media experiences are the creative and collaborative processes that enable the brand to bring them to life. As brands expand their use of content-driven experiences across a growing number of channels, a whole new lexicon and set of skills are required to forge and implement a successful strategy.
  3. 3. 3 A NEW ERA OF MARKETERS In this content marketing evolution, Paul Roetzer points out in The Marketing Agency Blueprint, hybrid marketers are becoming the standard – successful marketers cannot focus on a single specialty: “Hybrid professionals are trained to deliver services across search, mobile, social, content, analytics, web, PR, and email marketing. They provide integrated solutions that used to require multiple agencies and consultants.” In fact, Adobe’s recent survey of marketers found that 64% expect their role to change in the next 12 months. Fully 40% of those same marketers say they want to “reinvent” their role – but only 14% feel that they know how to do so. The inevitable conclusion? As businesses scale their content marketing, it is critical that they also scale the skills needed for more flexible and agile creative collaboration, management of technology, and measurement of digital programs. Teams responsible for content planning, production, and measurement must be able to work together, speak the same language, and focus on the same sets of tasks even when geographically dispersed. From agencies and freelancers to in-house marketing and design teams, content marketing efforts are more spread out than ever before. Put simply: Great content marketing takes a village – but these days the villagers need new skills to adapt and thrive in their environment, and to create a bigger impact on their enterprise.
  4. 4. 4 CONTENT MARKETING IS NOW CORE TO BUSINESS After seven years of watching content marketing transform businesses both large and small, CMI confidently can confirm that content marketing – as a holistic, strategic approach – is core to suc- cessful businesses. There is simply no debate now that companies create exponentially more content as part of their strategic marketing than they ever have. Thus, the question for enterprises is not will content affect a business outcome – but how. Content marketing – and how brands use it to interact with buyers at all stages of an engagement journey – is impacting businesses in both positive and negative ways. Content can be managed as a strategic asset or it can be an expensive by-product that ultimately weighs down a business as it tries to navigate the broader disruptions.
  5. 5. 5 OUR CONTENT MARKETING FRAMEWORK Since Joe Pulizzi and I published Managing Content Marketing in 2011, we have been blessed to work with some amazing brands to help them operationalize the process of content marketing. These companies include: We’ve learned a lot, and through our practical experience, we have recognized an interesting pattern: The elements of content marketing form a chain or process that increases the likelihood of success. We believe in this framework so much that it informs the navigation on CMI’s website, as well as our approach to teaching the practice of content marketing in our workshops, advisory sessions, and events like Content Marketing World. And now it’s the genesis for how we can help marketers develop content marketing skills on their own.  Oracle  Adobe  Petco  SAS  Allstate  SAP  Abbott Laboratories  Dell  Staples  ADP
  6. 6. 6 OUR CONTENT MARKETING FRAMEWORK Each year CMI brings thousands of people together in Cleveland at Content Marketing World to talk about the evolving practice of content marketing. We host similar events worldwide, which give us a unique global perspective on the evolving art and practice of content marketing. Our online publication – the CMI blog – shares insight and tips daily from hundreds of thought leaders. CCO magazine speaks bimonthly in print and online to the senior-level content marketer. In ad- dition, every year we consult with 50-plus Fortune 1000 brands working through the operational issues associated with content marketing. Still, in CMI’s effort to ensure that the practice of content marketing becomes a strategic function within organizations, we recognized more needed to be done. So we brought together senior practitioners from brands and agencies who are doing the field work to create a permanent educational experience in a single place where they can share their successful strategies, tactics, and insights with you when you and your team want it. Our goal? To help you and your brand expand your skill set to better adapt to the new challenges – and opportunities – of content marketing. What are some of those key challenges?
  7. 7. 7 INTEGRATION OF CONTENT MARKETING AND DATA Two of the biggest questions for content marketers today are:  How do I show results that are meaningful?  How do I utilize customer data to optimize my content strategy? Only 21% of B2B and 23% of B2C marketers believe they are effective at tracking ROI, according to CMI’s Content Marketing 2015: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends — North America report. The results are similar for marketers in Australia (20%), while the number jumps to 28% in the U.K. Still, fewer than a third of content marketers worldwide are satisfied with their ability to measure the impact of their content. KEY CHALLENGE: Many companies believe that content marketing should reside in the brand teams or demand-generation teams (the latter is common in B2B companies). Yet, we’ve found that in many enterprises, the practitioners of content marketing come from very different parts of the organization. How can content marketing scale in an organization no matter where it lives? KEY CHALLENGE: The language of data is important to know and use. To integrate it, you must understand a robust taxonomy and develop tagging structures to optimize your content’s value. Data also becomes invaluable when you want to do a deeper dive into measurement. How can you actually integrate data in your business? What’s your plan to get there? KEY CHALLENGE: A lack of expertise in deriving meaning from data has resulted in slow progress of data and content integration. Larger companies often add another level of complexity – multiple marketing silos within their own brand or outsourced content platform and metrics. One key question that executives should be asking is how to integrate these silos. How does content marketing measurement differ across the organization and how do we maximize the potential of all this measurement data?
  8. 8. 8 KEY CHALLENGE: We see marketers improving their skills for answering the provocative question: “How good is the content we are already producing?” But it’s difficult to answer the quality question clearly when content production happens in multiple silos, leading to inconsistent results in quality and measurement of content efficacy. How do we get beyond the silos to engage an organization-wide approach to content? KEY CHALLENGE: One important challenge – especially in B2B enterprises – is the idea of creating content based on customer-focused “views” rather than product-focused “solutions.” The former focuses on customer pain points, problems to be solved and jobs to be done more efficiently, while the latter involves developing new product-line extensions and marketing campaigns to “push” products at customers even when they aren’t a good match with the customer’s needs. How can we focus content more on the totality of a solution for which the consumer is searching, instead of on the totality of the existing business structure?
  9. 9. 9 WORKFLOWS AND BUDGETS The process of content marketing is often one area that needs the most work in large enterpris- es. In many cases, the processes are developed ad hoc and improvised as experiments across various platforms are executed; even the more successful processes are scaled to produce more of the same type of content while little thought is given to the underlying processes used to create it, let alone promote it. Organizations often exacerbate this shortcoming by outsourcing content-focused job functions to agencies or freelancers. Even though the process isn’t becoming more efficient, content budgets are becoming quite substantial. With an increased investment comes increased scrutiny, meaning content marketers won’t survive long if their processes to produce, publish, and promote are still “being figured out.” KEY CHALLENGE: How do we dedicate a team that helps establish a scalable workflow and mea- surability? How do we learn how to develop strategic, integrated, and efficient processes for the creation and promotion of content? KEY CHALLENGE: If money is flowing into a content marketing program, some percentage of it should be allocated to content promotion. If you are going to invest in building it, you MUST invest in promot- ing it as well. How do we create a marketing plan for content that is built on sound principles?
  10. 10. 10 CONTENT MARKETING OPERATIONS From editorial calendaring and project management to how the publishing process is facilitated, each company’s operational approach is unique. This is something we see in our advisory work with clients at CMI. It’s rare that content marketing is conceived, constructed, and rolled out as a function within an enterprise. It is almost always something that starts from the practitioner level – building critical mass through small experiments that prove worthy – and then inherited by one or multiple existing marketing/communications functions within the business. KEY CHALLENGE: Construction of teams focused on content marketing is an increasingly popular concept. How do we build content marketing team roles and responsibilities in the best way? KEY CHALLENGE: Many marketers are still using Excel for editorial calendars. New calendars should be built into enterprise applications, but often aren’t because dedicated editorial calendars are new IT tools that usually don’t appear in the budget. How do we set up editorial strategies and use calendars to their best effect?
  11. 11. 11 FUTURE OF CONTENT MARKETING CULTURE As the famous Peter Drucker quote goes, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” In other words, if a company’s culture doesn’t align with its business strategy, the strategy probably won’t survive. There is no doubt that content marketing, as a process, is still working through some significant cultural issues. At every turn, we find that managers are increasingly challenged with changing the culture within organizations – rather than executing against an intelligent or logical strategy. As one client said to us recently, “It’s easy to create a strategy and a plan for my work. It’s almost impossible to change the culture of the place where I work.” But what does the future hold? The attendees of the most recent Content Marketing World and our Executive Forum, as well as those marketers we interviewed in this year’s research, all say the same thing: There is a gap between our desire to have a content marketing strategy and our ability to make it really work in the business. Seventy percent of these marketers agree that the marketing department of the future will have a substantially different look. But the majority of them aren’t nearly as sure of what it will look like. “Change is inevitable,” said one client. “I can’t tell you where or when; but what I know is that there will be change. This is the principle we build on now.” This is why professional development is critical right now. The disparity in skills will continue to grow as the practice of content marketing and the strategies to operationalize it evolve. Those companies that focus on developing new skills today are likely to employ the successful marketers of the future. Those companies that maintain the status quo are likely to find their content mar- keting initiatives stillborn – the fate of every corporate initiative that fails to demonstrate ROI and how it contributes to the strategic direction of the organization. There is no middle ground.
  12. 12. 12 As we move forward in 2015 and beyond, these big challenges will continue to inform our mission at CMI and our new training platform. We will explore:  The bigger questions of marketing measurement – and content marketing more specifically  Operational models of content marketing – and how content centers of excellence, focused departments, and/or outsourcing models are proving most successful  The idea that companies must become much more skilled in the creation of content – not just in its management. If content is as strategic as products are, then shouldn’t it have the same developmental resources attached to it?  The function of content marketing and where it should reside within the business – Should it evolve into an internal service organization that serves multiple parts of an existing business? Or should it evolve as the business as a whole evolves, morphing into a more virtual marketing approach and methodology? As for us at CMI, we’re excited to help you explore these questions and challenges, and to share the best practices we uncover. Our new training platform serves as a centralized way we can help 24/7/365 on these key issues as you approach them at your own pace. Ultimately, we want to help you to reinvent yourself as a marketer and your enterprise’s content marketing as a core business strategy. Ultimately, we want to help you grow your skills and your enterprise so both are well-positioned for even greater success. Now, let’s get to it.
  13. 13. 13 LEARN MORE ABOUT CMI’S TRAINING PROGRAM To learn more about CMI’s training program and how it can benefit you and your marketing staff, please join us for a free webinar: April 21, 2015 2:00-3 p.m. EDT In it, we will cover:  Trends in content marketing contributing to a growing skills gap  Potential solutions to minimize that gap and help alleviate it  E-learning as the most cost-effective solution  An overview and demonstration of CMI’s growing online training program REGISTER TODAY