The Future of Content

End Random Acts of Content Marketing

By October 7, 2014 One Comment

Why does as much as 70% of content end up in corporate landfills?

Why do only 38% of marketers feel effective at content marketing?

Let me offer a theory:

In our rush to adopt content marketing, we’ve done it in a one-off, ad hoc fashion.

The result: Random acts of content.

Content is produced in silos, to meet haphazard instead of strategic goals. This is the outcome of a channel-first—rather than a buyer-focused—approach to marketing. It’s why we need a content marketing operation.

You can probably tell I’ve been stewing on this for a while. There’s no doubt that content marketing has taken off. (We’ve compiled over 200 stats that say as much.)

But that doesn’t mean we’re doing it right. If you look at the research released last week, 70% of B2B marketers claim they’re producing more content than a year ago—but the percentage that considers their content effective dropped to 38% this year.

Why? Because too few organizations treat content as a holistic, enterprise-wide practice. Far too many produce content in an ad hoc, nearly invisible manner. As a result, the content feels random and limited to a one-time use case.

There’s a logical explanation for this, of course. As marketers we’re in a constant state of disruption. Technology builds on itself, advancing exponentially. This enables even greater independence among buyers—and a far more fragmented landscape of customer touchpoints.

You can feel this viscerally—like the ground shifting beneath your feet. And so marketers frantically stretch across a widening number of channels. Really, this so-called marketing “strategy” is an endless pursuit to adapt to new channels, which pop up faster than any business can handle.

The result of this approach is an organizational chart full of channel “managers,” all of whom are desperate to supply their channel with content. But without a centralized operation for producing that content, these managers do it on their own, leading to content with a short shelf life and disconnected from the larger organizational needs of sales, marketing, and customer success teams.

And, importantly, marketers can’t see the forest through the trees. Because no matter the channel buyers flock to, they seek out information and content. Data, insight, analysis, story…these are the reasons people click, download, and engage.

In other words, in a content operation, you focus on creating value for the buyer through informative, smart, and even fun content. By getting that right, you can optimize for any channel, including those that haven’t emerged yet.

What it takes is establishing a content marketing operation, capable of understanding each stage of the buyer’s journey, anticipating their needs, and addressing the bigger organizational needs.

It comes down to the three main values of a content operation: Alignment, accountability, and visibility.

First, we need alignment across channels and functions. That means seeing beyond the short-term needs of an individual channel. Instead, attention is given to producing customer-focused content first—content that is tied back to the organization’s main messages—and then optimized for channels.

Secondly, you need accountability. Without clear roles, responsibilities, and a repeatable process for producing, distributing, and analyzing content, it doesn’t get done.

And finally, you need visibility. Without content visible to all stakeholders and organized around your unique needs, buyer personas, and sales stages, the process falls apart.

This isn’t about creating vastly more content. It’s about ending the haphazard process leading to content marketing failure.

It’s about focusing on why buyers engage with us, and not overly obsessing over how they engage.

That’s what’s leading to the rise of content marketing operations, and why leading enterprises are jumping on board. It’s time to end random acts of content marketing.

Jesse Noyes

About Jesse Noyes

Former Senior Director of Content Marketing at Kapost. I enjoy learning, teaching and eating...not necessarily in that order.

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