How a Common Content Strategy Unites Marketing’s Different Natures

I recently wrote about the two “natures of marketing”brand awareness and short-term sales activation (or leadgen, as we B2B marketers are used to call it) and the role of content within the overall marketing strategy. The latest seminal research of Les Binet and Peter Field, Effectiveness in Context, analyses hundreds campaigns of the IPA Databank, with a focus on marketing effectiveness, and well clarifies the dual model. Here I want to focus on the role of content strategy within an overarching marketing strategy, and how content will contribute to a common alignment across the different marketing natures.

The last few years have seen short-term sales activation becoming enterprises’ first priority, especially in the B2B domain. Enterprises invested most of the money in short-term, bottom of the funnel, campaigns driven mostly by online paid media programs and related content, in the hope to lift sales for the next few quarters. I had a similar priority when I led marketing for a division of a large enterprise in the field of Energy. Brand was a minor focus. I keep seeing this as a practice in many of the enterprises I consult. Short-term activation campaigns and sales programs were successful in most of the cases. At least, this is what I (and most marketers) thought.

According to Binet and Field, marketing effectiveness is in decline and “short-termism” is, in many ways, the mother of all marketing problem. What exactly happened? As I have mentioned, marketers are increasingly short-term in their focus. They spend money on immediate sales activation rather than longer-term brand building. They opt for bottom-of-the-funnel tactics because in a one-year time period that will pay better in the majority of the cases. But in one of the most important sections of their research, the two authors demonstrate that over the longer term this short-termism will rapidly deteriorate the overall impact of marketing. Too much time spent picking the low-hanging fruit means less time watering the tree. Eventually the tree stops growing.

As a consequence, content creation has focused mainly on bottom-of-the-funnel and product (or service)-focused content to support short-term paid media and sales activation programs. In most of the cases a solid and documented content strategy was even not requested and not in place. You don’t need a content strategy for executing short-term sales activation campaigns.

I have seen this happening with the clients I consult and work with, which are mostly large enterprises in the sectors of tech, finance, energy. While in the past my strategy workshops were mostly attended by brand and content leaders, now a vastly heterogeneous crowd of marketers belonging to different domains shows up. People from performance marketing, but also paid media, social media and PR teams are common audience of my strategy exercises. The main challenge all of them have is alignment across a common audience and buyer journey.

In fact, they share:

  • Common business and marketing goals – marketers might have different micro-goals (eg. brand lift or number of leads) but the marketing function always share common macro-goals
  • Common audience – they are targeting the same audience, but their approach targets different phases of the buyer journey: brand and content focus mostly on awareness, performance marketing on consideration, decision and buying
  • Common buyer journey – again marketers target different stages and they clearly have different needs. Marketers focusing on brand/content need to design a centralised audience-centric content strategy; performance marketers need to understand what resonate with the audience in the decision/purchase phases of the journey, and use good content for their activation campaigns; field marketers need sales enablement content which span across different stages; social media & comms marketers need to secure alignment with the previous functions in order to support with solid content distribution.
  • Common strategy – built around audience and buyer journey; top-of-the-funnel content and storytelling will fuel brand awareness and its need to build enduring memories; medium and bottom-of-the-funnel content will feed the immediate need for sales activation programs. 

Marketers belonging to different functions within the same organisation share the same need: alignment across a common audience and buyer journey.

The role of content marketing is evolving. From an individual and isolated rebel approach at the times of the first books of Joe Pulizzi ( early 2010s?) to a consolidated mainstream role within the overarching marketing strategy. 

How to Use Global Content Marketing Tactics for Internal Communications

Content Marketing Internal Communications

When we talk about content marketing, we share tips and advice on strategy, audience building, distribution, and ROI. We discuss the content we create and who we are targeting, but we rarely do so in the context of internal communications.

Whether we work for a large enterprise or a small start-up, internal communication is a critical function. Especially for companies running global content marketing programs, it’s critical to establish internal communication channels between teams. This will ensure that everyone knows the latest information about content processes, frameworks, methodologies, and best practices.

One solution: use content marketing tactics internally. Email newsletters, content hubs, and apps are all great ways to solve internal communications challenges and keep employees and partners aligned.

Continue reading “How to Use Global Content Marketing Tactics for Internal Communications”

How to find the Optimal Balance Between Central and Local Content Teams

This post has originally been published on NewsCred’s Insights content hub. This is my original version. It includes content and references that had to  be removed from the company’s blog. 

One of the most critical aspects of going global with a content marketing strategy in a large and complex enterprise is finding the right balance between central and local organisations. In fact, just deploying a content marketing model across multiple regions – even if it has been tested successfully in one country – will simply not work. You need to plan, find the right global to local balance, pilot and then scale at global level. In most regions, like Asia or Europe for example – with dozens of different countries and languages, – it is unrealistic to make content work for each individual market. Continue reading “How to find the Optimal Balance Between Central and Local Content Teams”

Content Marketing, Big Rocks & the “Thanksgiving analogy”

Note – header image is from Jason Miller blog/book “Welcome to the Funnel”.

Fall is coming. Thanksgiving is approaching and marketers on the other side of the Atlantic (my side is the European) are ready to take a break, turn their brain off for a few days and stop thinking about marketing, content & ROI.

Well… ever heard about Content Marketing Thanksgiving analogy?

The concept is simple. The idea is to look for opportunities to repurpose the content that you already have – exactly as you’re repurposing Thanksgiving food for some time. The analogy comes from an interview to Rebecca Lieb. When asked about tips for companies struggling to produce enough content, she replied:

“I use a Thanksgiving analogy. You cook up this giant bird to serve up on one glorious occasion and then proceed to slice and dice this thing for weeks on end. If you are like most families you are going to be repurposing this bird as leftovers for quite some time creating everything from sandwiches, to soups, and more. Your content marketing strategy can be thought of in the same way.”

The idea here is basic, but straight forward: marketer have to look for opportunities to repurpose the content that they already have. For instance, eBooks can be repurposed into infographics, SlideShare presentations, blog posts, video and then disseminated via social media channels.

The idea is to look for opportunities to re-purpose the content that you already have,  exactly as you’re repurposing thanksgiving food for some time.

Jason Miller adds:

“This concept can be taken a step further and applied to “Big Rock” pieces of contents . The idea is to develop an all-encompassing guide to whatever your keywords or topics are which is written strategically instead of instructionally. This type of content is very top of funnel and can serve many purposes such as SEO, fuel for social and lead generation, sales enablement, and event collateral to name a few.”

Rebecca Lieb, Jason Miller, Alex Barca (Curata) all mention the analogy, with small variations (the Thanksgiving analogy, the Content Pyramid, etc). Jason Miller put the analogy, together with the Big Rock concept, at the centre of his book “Welcome to the Funnel”.

All good readings, if you are a content marketer.