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The State of Content Marketing Operations for the Enterprise: The Future of Content Marketing Teams and Keys to Transformation


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Our latest Enterprise research, focusing on content marketing teams and the keys to transformation

Published in: Marketing

The State of Content Marketing Operations for the Enterprise: The Future of Content Marketing Teams and Keys to Transformation

  1. 1. 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 E x ecutiv e R esearch S eries The State of Content Marketing Operations for the Enterprise: The Future of Content Marketing Teams and Keys to Transformation
  2. 2. OVERVIEW The most common and dynamic theme that is evident when we look toward the future of content marketing is change. “I can’t tell you there’s any immediate change on the horizon, but given how many new technologies and how many new models are coming into the fold, I wouldn’t be surprised that at some point there will be some change.” So how will marketing leaders change as a result of content marketing? Many want to improve their editorial process and centralize some of the planning. Others are taking this a step further and want to integrate their editorial and demand-generation processes so the content they publish can better drive business results. But at the crux of this change is the need to transform organizational culture, which is very challenging in enterprise organizations where silos and strong histories often hold sway. It is useful to examine what marketing leaders would like to improve within their processes and organizations, but the most meaningful advice comes from organizations already beginning to transform. Like everything we have uncovered, there is no one right way to accomplish this transformation, but rather there are myriad ideas that marketing leaders are exploring or have already implemented. Methodology: About CMI Executive Research Series In spring 2014, Content Marketing Institute (CMI) embarked on a qualitative research project to develop a deeper understanding of how enterprise marketers approach content marketing. Topics addressed include operations/team structure, international strategy, budgets, effectiveness, challenges, successes, and what the marketing department of the future might look like. CMI partnered with Market Dynamics LLC, which conducted interviews with 27 senior-level enterprise (1,000+ employees) marketers actively engaged in content marketing strategy and/or content marketing in their organizations. The interviews took place between February and April 2014 and included marketers from both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) companies. The State of Content Marketing Operations for the Enterprise is the second of two reports that synthesizes the information gathered from those interviews, along with insights gleaned during the inaugural CMI Executive Forum 2014—a two-day gathering in May 2014 of 40 enterprise marketing leaders (some of whom also participated in the qualitative interviews). Quotes that are included throughout this report are from the forum’s participants. 2
  3. 3. THE FUTURE OF CONTENT MARKETING TEAMS More than two-thirds of marketing leaders we interviewed see their marketing departments restructuring to address content marketing needs. Among the few companies that indicated their future structure would be similar to their present organization, most already had gone through major restructuring to adapt to content, either within marketing or with a separate group. What does this restructuring look like and what will need to change? Below are the key themes that emerged during our interviews. As a note, in many cases companies were shifting resources from marketing and other departments to handle content marketing versus hiring new employees. More focus on publishing mindset/approach Several companies have adopted editorial principles, such as having a managing editor or content marketing manager who identifies key topics, defines the workflow, manages the writers, and measures success. Those who do not yet take this approach hypothesize that they will: “I would like to see us evolving into a publishing house, in which an editor will help shape stories and content, acting as an advisor for teams. Editorial calendars will be a constant among the teams.” As one offshoot of this, it’s a good idea to have someone in the company focus on your organization’s point of view and tone of voice. If you don’t, there is a good chance your content will sound like everyone else. Your managing editor needs to read and consume everything you produce to make sure your content is consistent and as true to brand as possible. 3 EDITORIAL AND SOCIAL MEDIA TOP LIST OF SKILS IN HIGHEST DEMAND A look at who marketing leaders have recently hired and who they are planning to hire gives a good indication of how content marketing teams will evolve in the near future. Where is the skills gap, and what do they consider to be important? Many of those who are hiring say they look for content marketing professionals who can wear many hats, with editorial and social media skills in highest demand. There is also a trend in hiring people with publishing backgrounds (writers, editors-in-chief) as companies strive to create better quality content. An additional bonus is that organizations can tap into these people’s networks. Other positions for which marketing leaders are hiring include digital marketing, creative/ design and content marketing managers. If you are really serious about content marketing, you need to push yourself and your team to look more closely at storytelling and creating valuable and engaging content.
  4. 4. Demand generation and publishing come together Taking this a step further, some marketing leaders want to more closely align their publishing and demand-generation 4 skills. So, instead of focusing specifically on creating and distributing content, they will combine this with the demand-generation mindset so they are also getting and nurturing leads to achieve more profitable action. Planning becomes more centralized Several marketing leaders remarked that they would like to see their content marketing structure become more centralized as it relates to planning. For many, this means deciding on key topics at the corporate level and getting the right groups and subject-matter experts involved. “Based on how we’re structured—and I talk about that centralized combined with a decentralized content model—in order to have an effective content strategy we would have to rein in all the decentralized areas and get everybody on the same song sheet. That’s a mountain of work and a challenge that would require a lot of focus and energy from someone like the marketing department.” Content Marketing for Customer Retention For many marketing leaders, content marketing turned out to be as much about engaging with current customers as it was about sales prospecting and demand generation. This was particularly true for several major high technology and financial services companies that see content marketing as a cornerstone of their customer retention marketing strategy. “It’s really about engagement and retention. We want to make sure that our clients continue to look to us for what’s happening next ... To retain them, we need to up our game so that we continue to add value to the equation.” While using content marketing to retain and upsell customers is nothing new, there is a lot of opportunity for companies to apply their processes and what they have learned to drive more profits.
  5. 5. TRANSFORMATION TAKES MANY FORMS While looking toward what marketing leaders want to see in the future is useful, what is, perhaps, more interesting is how they will get there. Shifting to a content marketing mindset is very much tied to shifting the organizational culture, but this is not something that happens easily or quickly, especially in large organizations. Get executive buy-in While marketing leaders are struggling with many aspects of content marketing, there is one barrier that is certain to impede progress: lack of executive support. If executive management does not believe in content marketing, it will be incredibly difficult to get the right groups involved and get the permission to experiment (and sometimes fail, which is essential if you want to grow). Not surprisingly, the principles of content marketing may be exactly what marketing leaders can use to get their management to buy in. Ask: “Who needs to buy in, and what does each person care about?” Market your content marketing efforts internally, with a dedicated focus on how this transformation will positively impact what management cares about most. In short, figure out what content effectiveness looks like to management and tailor your presentations and communications to focus on that. Get sales buy-in While it’s critical to get buy-in from executive management, it’s equally important to get support from sales. Not only is sales a key team that will provide insights into what prospects and customers care about, but the sales team also needs to be using the content you create. There is a big difference between pushing out content to sales and creating content that sales uses and engages with. Consider this statistic offered by Paul Danter, VPA Sales and Marketing from Genwi, at B2B Content2Conversion 2014: Up to 90 percent of marketing teams are creating content that is not being discovered by sales teams or customers. For instance, one company used an internal “road show” to present content marketing to sales. The company found that even though it put a concerted effort and investment into creating content, it was wholly inadequate and ineffective to place it into a central file repository and send an internal email newsletter. Various sales teams even went to the level of setting up spam filters to avoid the email newsletter sent by the content group! To address this, marketers developed the content “road show,” a quarterly effort in which they go around to various departments and tout content successes, train salespeople on the latest case studies, infographics, white papers and other content—and generally build excitement among the teams. It has been hugely successful for them. 5
  6. 6. Get TEAM buy-in Are you sensing a theme? You need to have buy-in from all parts of the organization, including your own team. One leader described in detail how he or she has taken the team on a transformational journey: “The way I am casting it to everybody on this team is we’re going to create a competency that we have never had before. We are going to walk around the halls with a lot more pride than we have ever had. By knowing that we’re now a best-practice marketing organization instead of feeling like we are fighting off our backs and defending ourselves all the time; we are going to be leading from the front.” Create ‘pockets’ of success Some marketing leaders who don’t yet have buy-in or those who are still trying to expand content marketing within their organization are finding success by creating a “pocket.” This is a way to experiment with content marketing, show success, and apply what they learn as they grow the content marketing discipline within the organization. Without sounding trite, it’s often more useful to ask for forgiveness instead of permission. Consider agile marketing Agile marketing is a trend in which small teams work closely together to create marketing programs that go through many tests and iterations. By learning and adapting with each project, they continually improve their output. This is an approach that a few marketing leaders are taking to elicit change within their organizations. As one participant explained: “I think agile marketing is one of the keys to making the transition from marketing—changing the culture to be a more accountable one that really is focused on results and outcomes, and not just lists of deliverables that someone asks them for.” Have collaborative workshops If your organization needs to smash the silos and get everyone on the same page, there is no better approach than in-person workshops. As one marketing leader explains, the outcomes of these workshops should be the campaigns and initiatives that the team should work on. Instead of having everybody go out and do their own things, they are collaboratively creating this in person, which gives everybody a sense of ownership. As part of this process, it also clarifies which themes should be consistent across the organization. Get comfortable with discomfort Marketers by nature are positive and ambitious, and (sometimes) structured, but content marketing is messy, difficult, and uncertain. As backwards as this may sound, embracing failure and uncertainty can be an attribute of a strong leader. People are attracted to those who are honest and human, so if you want to get your team behind you, be decisive and confident, but be open to sharing failed experiments as well. In turn, your team will be more likely to experiment. Align goals across your organization As a general rule, organizations need to align personal and team metrics with budgets and priorities. However, you need to take this a step further with content marketing. When executed successfully, content marketing involves many departments across the organization. While workshops help teach concepts, to truly get everyone on the same page and working toward the same goals, you need to make sure everyone is rewarded based on the same outcomes. If you have one team focused on getting traffic and another team working on sales, there could be a conflict and instead of meeting both goals, you may not meet either. 6
  7. 7. Communicate with the entire team Just as you need to align goals across teams, you also need to communicate with the entire team to get everyone on the same page: “In fact, we just held an in-person rally. Essentially 80 people all grinding out what is our content strategy for these various industries, solutions, and geographies going to be next year. It wasn’t all done, but we got about halfway there. Just to get the process kicked off.” Another marketing leader talks about the importance of monthly calls for the entire marketing team (this is hundreds of people.) Find meaning Although this may sound somewhat esoteric, the marketing leaders who feel most passionate and enthusiastic about their jobs are those who find meaning in both their positions and in their company. One marketing leader at the Executive Forum challenged his peers to truly care about their jobs and their organizations. 7 CONCLUSION This series of reports raised more questions than it answered, but it’s important for marketing leaders to understand they will always be transforming. There is no end point or perfect place to be. The successful adoption of content marketing has less to do with the age or history of your company and organization, but is instead driven more by the culture and mindset of innovation around content marketing. For every company, the simple goal should be to evolve. Think of projects as a way to learn, not as final destinations.
  8. 8. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS CMI is grateful to the extraordinary companies that participated in our 2014 Executive Research Series and shared their insights and expertise.  3M  Ameriprise Financial  Avery Dennison  Beechcraft Aviation  Cisco  Cleveland Clinic  CSC - Computer Science Corporation  Diebold  DuPont  EMC  Fidelity Investments  Genact  IBM  Infor  Kraft Foods Group  LEK Consulting  Lincoln Electric  Master Control  McGladrey  Rockwell  SAP  SAS  Standard Register Business Service  Sykes Enterprises  Symrise  Towers Watson  Wells Fargo Advisors 8
  9. 9. ABOUT CMI Content Marketing Institute (CMI) is the leading global content marketing education and training organization. CMI teaches enterprise brands how to attract and retain customers through compelling, multi-channel storytelling. CMI’s Content Marketing World, the largest content marketing-focused event, is held every September. CMI also produces the quarterly 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. If you manage your content marketing program, subscribe to CCO magazine. 9