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The Business Case for a Content Marketing Platform

The Business Case for a Content Marketing Platform

According to Forrester, most companies today practice content marketing - in dozens, if not hundreds, of pockets - leading to duplicate activity, overspending, and inconsistent customer experiences.

Marketing teams need a unified content marketing strategy, organisational buy-in and the support of business leadership to drive more effective outcomes from marketing content.

In today's digital landscape all marketing teams, from brand, search, social, PR, email, media, website and mobile, are using content to drive their specific marketing goals. Many brands now recognise the value of content, with 59% of organisations looking to increase their investment into content and personalisation.

However, increased spend into content comes with a number of operational complexities:

Content activity is scattered across the organisation.

Imagine if the New York Times allowed each producer to simply choose their own beats, and commission their own artwork and resources. Absolute chaos would ensue.

Not only would this method cause massive internal inefficiencies but there would be little to no consistency across the publication.

However this is how most enterprise brands approach content marketing. Teams manage their own budgets and agency relationships, creating silo's across the company and competing storytelling narratives. Often the brand is the only consistent element.

Michael Brenner, CEO of Marketing Insider Group told Forrester that "Many large enterprises see that more than 50% of their content is going completely unused. These are significant creation costs that are being flushed down the toilet."

An accumulation of tactics does not equal an organisational level strategic goal.

When content marketing becomes siloed across an organisation it simply becomes a stop-gap, or point solution to fill an ad unit. Often we'll search or social marketing teams commission content as a deliverable instead of as an investment aligned to the organisation's strategic goals.

This pattern results in an over-abundance of small tactical improvements at the expense of a cohesive strategic plan.

Content marketing problems make sense when they hit scale.

There's a clear correlation between the amount of valuable content an organisation produces and the amount of new business they can generate. Many marketing teams are in a constant struggle trying to generate enough valuable content within set budgets.

Brands are constantly wrestling with the level of content investment required to generate real returns. Establishing a clear business case based on core marketing objectives, and set metrics for brand affinity and increased purchase enables an organisation to build an efficient and repeatable marketing content factory.

Build your Business Case on Efficiency, Customer Centricity and Differentiation.

As Amy Winger, chief strategy officer at VML told Forrester: "Content marketing is our clients' way of getting into a cultural conversation. It's about granting the brand permission to be there in the first place." Marketers building a business case for the systemisation of content marketing should tie it back to the following three elements:

1. More efficient use of marketing content budgets for planning and production

Many marketing teams have already discovered that planning, producing and publishing high-quality content is an expensive process - both in time and resources.

The transformation from an organisation managing multiple ad hoc content projects across multiple team silos - to a systematic content factory - can see costs reduce dramatically. Unilever credits its systemisation of content creation and review with saving the business more than $10 million annually.

2. More customer value through the purchase journey

As we all know, customers are interacting with brand content at every point in the customer life cycle - from FAQ's, to reviews, to an entertaining video. "The buyer journey is self-selected and self-directed. people look for content that appeals to them and meets a need. And they decide what they'll do next." said Brenner of Marketing Insider Group.

The systemisation of content across an organisation enables marketing teams to leverage a centralised pool of content across the entire customer journey, integrated across all departments and teams.

3. Stronger brand differentiation

Content, and the emotional connection it can create, enables marketing teams to drive major shifts in attitudes around the brand. 

However for brand differentiation to be effective, it requires consistency across an organisation. 

Build a strong and actionable Business Case with POST

A strong business case requires a framework that considers your marketing activities against your customers needs and your organisations objectives.

Forrester's POST methodology lays a foundation for marketing teams to establish a clear and unified content marketing plan. By reassessing customer needs, business goals, and technology-based execution marketing teams can cut inefficiencies and improve customer experience. 

This methodology includes four key steps:

1. People: Prioritise customer needs when planning content and marketing activities

Now this may sound like Marketing 101, but many organisations still build their content strategy around their brand messaging goals - rather than what their customers actually need. 

Putting your customers needs front and centre when planning content and marketing activities ensures that value is intrinsic to the content being created. For example, when Intel started planning their editorial meetings around it's customers information needs, their PR, media and events teams quickly recognised the benefits to leaning-in and working collaboratively instead of in traditional silos.

This way, all of the organisations content users can collaborate around a shared content plan, and co-ordinate their promotional and communication activities to present the customer with a unified brand voice.

2. Objectives: Assess content's impact across the customer lifecycle

A business case for cross-channel marketing will always be stronger when it can clearly demonstrate how content has already contributed to both the customers purchase journey, and the brand's business goals.

Do the groundwork and analyse where content is already adding value across your organsisation, and surface these examples in your business case. For example, how storytelling engagement through social (paid and unpaid) leads to improved relationship with your brand, or how content can help deepen customer understanding both in-store and online. These examples enable you to clearly articulate what success with content will look like.

3. Strategy: Measure content success across the organisation

Content success and performance should be measured in relation to its impact to the customer lifecycle, not by marketing division.

By implementing reporting frameworks that cut across traditional silos, and aligning success metrics with customer needs, you can determine how your content is helping to bring your customers closer to purchase and earn credibility with your organisation. 

4. Technology: Leverage the right tools to build a repeatable content factory 

Marketing operations across an entire organisation can be an overwhelmingly complex task to tackle. Ensuring your content is aligned across thousands of assets and channels, and made accessible to all of your content users across multiple marketing teams and/or brands. Content Marketing Platforms are the best solution for managing upstream content activities, bring content planning and workflows into a common enterprisewide environment.

Content Success Stems from Focus and Cross-Team Collaboration

Success with content requires marketing leaders to not only build an effective content factory that delivers better results for their organisation, they also need to implement a strong internal communications strategy to manage the positive and negative attention that content marketing always garners.

According to Forrester, marketers leading content marketing initiatives see the most success when they:

Provide clear and unambiguous content marketing terms

The term "content marketing" is in itself a buzzword, and has too many shades of meaning in today's digital landscape from tactics, to strategy, to marketing teams.

Choose (and use) clear definitions that include a high level of specificity for your channels, organisational structure and go-to-market. Implementing clear definitions early will save you time, and ensure common understanding across all stakeholders.

Assess how content is currently made and distributed

This is a critical step to building an effective content factory. If you wish to improve efficiency into a process you must first understand how it currently works, down to the smallest detail.

Map out your current process from start through to completion, identifying and noting any manual processes, duplications of work and unnecessary extra time or resources spent on simple tasks. 

Get a C-suite champion

Implementation of a content marketing platform almost always includes the need to reorganise and upskill team members, a shift of budgets and resources, in addition to establishing cross-team collaboration. All of these factors and challenges are made easier with C-suite buy-in.

Obtaining C-suite buy-in early also enables you to circumvent resistance from more traditional parts of the marketing organisation. 

Include both a short-term and a long-term vision

Content marketing is a long-game - it's been said a million times before, and that's because it's true. However, as with any change management process you need to balance the long-term vision with short-term goals, to avoid stakeholders (and your team) from feeling that the end-goal is simply too far away.

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