Strategy & Planning Director
Many brands wrestle with which marketing staff to have in-house and when to rely on agencies. But a strategic approach to content marketing demands that companies embed the right staff and processes to allow quality, customer-centric content to be created rapidly and regularly.
So what’s the answer?
The pandemic has proven the advantage of in-house teams that deeply understand customers’ changing priorities. But it has also highlighted the benefits of creativity, agility and surge capacity that come from agency support. One solution is to work with agencies who, rather than selling time by the hour, embed consultants within their client offices in order to bring expertise and effect lasting change.
“Embedding isn’t just about agility,” explains iCrossing's chief digital officer, Roger Barr. “When our specialists work on site with clients, they also quickly identify any gaps in the internal team’s knowledge and help to fill them.”
However a company chooses to work, it's essential that they document and share their processes in a living, growing Content Marketing Playbook and training programme.
The following outlines the key steps that help brands resource their successful content marketing effectively.
The first content hire should be someone who is able to plan content and manage creatives. This person will own the Editorial Calendar, aligning it with marketing campaigns and seasonal trends. They will write briefs that marry the calendar, content strategy and customer needs while allowing space for creativity.
The job title for a content planner can change depending on the team size and relative seniority. For example, a blog-focussed content strategy would benefit from a managing editor, who will bring commissioning and copy-editing skills.
Alternatively, consider a content designer – a digital native who combines creative talents with an analytical mind: decoding briefs, incorporating insights, and creating the content most likely to drive action.
Even with a dedicated content marketing resource, it’s common for internal teams to focus on their micro-objectives rather than macro-level goals. Overcome this by creating an Editorial Board: a forum to bring together diverse voices from around the business. This high-level meeting ensures the content strategy is being implemented with company-wide support.
The Editorial Board should enable businesses to step back and review overall performance according to agreed KPIs and goals. It should also facilitate the sharing and updating of the Editorial Calendar to ensure that activity in one part of the business – such as a CSR project or sales promotion – is supported and amplified by the entire organisation.
Central to the Editorial Board is a managing editor who writes briefs, commissions and liaises with creators, and oversees the strategy implementation. In larger organisations, this person is managed by a content director, tasked with evangelising content marketing, pitching for budgets and overseeing production.
Scaling a content marketing operation can be hugely challenging. But look at big global brands like Nike and Innocent. How do they manage to keep tight control of their brand, yet also allow local markets to leverage inside knowledge to target the right communities with the right tone?
Establishing common workflows across teams and territories is key to increasing the sophistication of a business’ content marketing. These workflows should be centred around customer experience, using insight from local data, and underpinned by shared technology platforms for content production and digital asset management. They must also, of course, be firmly tethered to the Content Marketing Playbook.
For international brands like Timberland, who want to take a genuinely customer-centric approach to content marketing, local markets need to be given flexibility to create locally relevant content within the framework of a global strategy. Well-conceived global assets, translated and localised, can still drive most locally published content. You may also require a global Editorial Board to provide governance and guidance.
Media newsrooms and science labs provide the model for the most sophisticated content marketing operations. A newsroom mentality allows the content team to be agile and responsive to news and trends, and to seize opportunities. This approach demands trusted leadership from an empowered head of content with round-the-clock support from creatives and data analysts. It also requires a finely tuned governance process and, ideally, legal support.
To ensure a content machine is efficient and effective, businesses need to be armed with creative innovators and a scientific method for testing new ideas, driving a ‘fail fast, succeed faster’ ethos.
Does your organisation need an operating model for effective content marketing?
Our team of specialists are here to help:
Interview key stakeholders
Review your current documentation
Audit existing personas and journeys
Review customer touchpoint strategy
Review existing production processes
Audit current content formats and cadence
Development long-list of experiments
Moreover, we will be able to make recommendations on the composition of in-house teams and requirements for agency support, plus bespoke workflow and governance.
Get in touch with the team to find out more.
We believe that moving too slowly in digital is the biggest risk your business faces. If you are ready to move faster in digital, we are here to help.