If there is one thing I’m sure of, it’s this – we are having the wrong conversation about content marketing. Right now the conversation is too tactical. It’s too execution focused. It’s about content but it’s not about content marketing.
Content marketing is about business transformation. It’s about putting the customer at the very heart of your business. It’s about solving their challenges and giving them hope. It’s about getting your entire business focused on your customer, and it’s about aligning your entire business to do it together. This is not just the marketing team’s responsibility. Everyone needs to get involved.
To do this, the traditional siloes of business need to be knocked down. No, they need to be smashed down. If your business functions are not working together today, you cannot be successful at content marketing.
Because business siloes are the enemy of content marketing.
A culture of competition within and across teams is also the enemy of content marketing.
The goal of any business today must be to unify across all functions, hear each other’s views, understand the customer (the human), and then create compelling information that helps the customer and builds their loyalty to you.
The majority of businesses I speak to are not even close to doing this. It’s why I started The Digital Conversationalist – to tackle this very challenge.
But it’s not easy. To change everything, you have to embrace it at a deep level. You have to accept that there are a lot of intangibles here. You have to change how you measure success. You have to think holistically and not in quarters, because the customer – the human – at the end of your campaigns isn’t a quarter, they’re a whole.
And you have to get everyone in your business behind this.
There’s a very good reason the vast majority of new entrants to the Fortune 500 have social CEOs. That is the way of business now. I read once there are two types of CEOs – social CEOs and retired CEOs.
All executive leaders must embrace content marketing and become authentic participators on social media. Executives are the face and voice of your company and their unique point of view, plus a strong social presence, builds trust in them and your business. Social is where the customers are having conversations and leaders need to both lead conversations through the content they create, and be part of the conversations taking place.
Executives absolutely must listen too – it’s not a one-way street. Social enables leaders to stay on the pulse of their industry and their content empowers them to define their industry.
Did you know that only 15% of sales people are using social media to sell? Shocking right? But of course, meeting sales quotas is fast and action oriented. Sales people don’t have time to build and nurture relationships online – it takes too long. But then, isn’t sales about nurturing relationships? And shouldn’t sales people take the same skills used in face-to-face nurturing and then multiply those efforts online?
I get it. The business doesn’t support that. It’s not how things have been done. Which brings me to the first thing that needs to change – give salespeople the scope to be content and social leaders.
Second thing is integrating sales with marketing, so they can share their valuable insight about the customer. Any content created MUST have the insight of sales, because they are the ones who know the customer. Please read this excellent article on building sales content.
But wait, there’s more. Sales people must also create great content. Sales people understand the customer. Sales people know the customer’s pain. Sales people know what customers are focused on. So sales people, write amazing content to help the customer on their journey. That’s what you can do and business should be all over you to do this.
Yes, you don’t have time, but perhaps rather than saying that, you can stop cold calling (or cold social selling) and start investing that time here, where it really matters?
15% of people trust recommendations from brands. 84% trust recommendations from people they know
What’s the biggest issue facing HR today? Employee engagement. What are HR people worried about – keeping great employees and attracting great employees. What’s the one thing millennials look at when deciding to join a company? Well according to LinkedIn research, it’s company culture. How does content marketing help?
Employees who are embraced to build their personal brand and build the company brand, who are the voice of your business, are more engaged. People looking to join your company can understand your culture by reading content written by your best people.
All businesses need to have a platform for the employee voice. I wrote a blog for HR on this topic here and this is another great piece on using content marketing to hire.
If you are not selling a marketing solution, it is often hard to put yourself in the content mix, but marketing and comms have a worthy role to play. Of course, the marketing and/or comms team are the people bringing all of the people, processes and products together to deliver content marketing. However, a big challenge I’ve seen is this – too many marketing and comms businesses operate separately in siloes. That is the first thing to fix.
But the other aspect is creating your own content, on your subject of expertise, because your goal today should be to become a legend in your industry. In return you will attract the best talent to your team – because people want to work for an inspired team – and you build your brands reputation too, because you hire the best people in the world!
On top of this, you get more in return for your investment – media interviews, speaking invitations, credibility with peers, and so much more – which is further building the brand you work for. That’s why you have a role to play.
I could keep going through all of the functions of business, but hopefully you get the point. Whether you’re in the above functions or customer service, finance, R&D, design, business development, advertising, training, events, or any other function, you have a role to play in your content marketing organisation.
And that is why I believe we are having the wrong conversation, because right now, only one or two business functions are involved. Businesses are also still too focused on a top-down approach, believing that only the executive voice is of value. Every voice in your business is valuable to your brand. Open the doors. Give them freedom. Give them guidelines. Give them training and coaching. But also flatten out the hierarchy and change everything, because you cannot be spectacular at content marketing if you continue with business as usual.
Content marketing, at its deepest level, is about culture change. And that is what is required today. This is the conversation you need to be having today within your business. Are you ready to change everything?
If you are, you’ll lead the conversation in your industry and attract and retain the rock stars you want to keep growing your business. Good luck.
So what do you think? Am I onto something here or do you have another point of view to share? I’d love to hear it if you do.
Men transforming photo courtesy of Shutterstock.
You can follow Andrea on LinkedIn, Twitter or on Facebook. Her blog is here. You can follow The Digital Conversationalist on LinkedIn here and this is the Facebook group, where conversation is encouraged. Thanks for reading.