Successful content programs have support from the top
At a recent conference in New York, I spoke with executives from several companies who shared their original, compelling and successful content marketing programs. I was particularly impressed with initiatives from Aetna, which humanizes and demystifies the complex field of group health insurance, and Sealed Air, which takes a customer-first approach to marketing air and plastic. One thing I learned that both these programs had in common was that hands-on involvement from the C-Suite was critical to their success.
Why was this so important? In many companies, content gets short shrift from executive management. Many CMOs/GVPs see it as too tactical to be worth their time. Others don’t know how they should get involved, so they keep their distance. As a result, their teams lack clear direction and often the support required to develop content that makes their brands stand out in the marketplace. Here are three reasons why, if you run marketing for your organization, you need to take an active role in your company’s content marketing efforts:
- Content is one of the most strategic initiatives for any brand today
For B2B companies in particular, content is a critical link between your brand and how buyers buy. It is well-established that much of a prospect’s buying journey is complete before he or she ever formally contacts your company. Your website or contact platform is typically where they will first engage with your brand. And since only a small percentage of prospects are ready to buy today, the best marketers are building audiences of both today’s and tomorrow’s buyers. Especially in the early stages of the customer journey, your content is your best opportunity to tell your story, and it is the destination toward which the rest of your marketing should drive your audience.
- Content enables sales
Your content can educate your front-line people. For inside and field salespeople, as well as customer service reps, it can help them to learn product features and benefits and to speak more consistently “on brand“. B2SMB brands, in particular, must focus on providing ideas and solutions to help their customers run their businesses. Content is the best way to enable your salespeople to do this.
- Your team needs you
The way buyers buy has changed (and continues to do so) and your marketing needs to change along with it. This may require a major mind-shift for your team. Product features and promotional offers are easy to match, and product-centric marketing is no longer as effective as it used to be. Content now is king. Every audience is different, however, and while a content pro can steer you in the right direction, you will need to experiment (and yes, occasionally, fail). Does your team feel empowered to do so? Do they have the “air cover” they need to survive inevitable missteps? And do they have the budget? Content marketing is a long-term undertaking and the initial buildout of a content platform can require a significant investment in time and resources.
Effective content marketing is bigger than just “doing content.” You can’t just “check the boxes.” For most companies, this requires re-imagining the way they go to market, and can involve re-thinking budgets and roles from the CMO on down. Even if your company is committed to content, here are five steps you can take to ensure that you’re doing all you can to be successful:
- Contribute to, or at least review, your content strategy
- Emphasize the important role content plays in your overall marketing strategy
- Encourage front line staff to familiarize themselves with your content and use it in their work.
- Empower your team to try different things, make mistakes and have patience to allow what is inevitably a long-term effort to pay off.
- Make sure your team knows that good content is not good enough. Content that gets the attention of SMBs and keeps them coming back is content that changes their point-of-view.
If you take away just one thing from this post, realize that content is strategic and requires your input. Without encouragement and support from the highest levels of the organization, your content is likely to underperform. Given the way SMBs buy today, that means revenue will suffer.
If you are reading this and are not a CMO/GVP, please forward this to your most senior marketing officer. The success of your company’s content marketing efforts likely depends on them.