An interesting thought for marketers jumping on the content marketing bandwagon today; using content to connect with, educate and provide value to customers is not a new concept.
A few examples of “pioneering” content that was very effective for its authors back in the day include John Deere’s The Furrow and the 1900 Michelin Tire Guide. The Jell-O Corporation put itself on the map in the early 1900’s by handing out over 15 million recipe booklets showing women how the relatively unknown product could make cooking dessert for their families a much easier task.
Those were content projects that paid off, ideas that struck it big, and great reminders of how successful providing real value to customers can be.
Today though, you can’t treat content as a one-off marketing project and hope to win. Content marketing must be a scalable, repeatable process that is driven by insight and data, and held accountable through measurable results.
So how do enterprise marketing organizations, most still struggling to hit their stride with content marketing, get there?
This question and many more were tackled at the recent Content Marketing Institute 2014 Executive Forum, where 40 senior-level marketers from enterprise brands gathered to discuss the state of content marketing at their companies and as a whole, the challenges they face today and what they see looking forward.
Some of the highlighted challenges that face enterprise content marketers:
- Technologically-sophisticated tools have allowed enterprise marketing teams to amass large amounts of data from their marketing efforts, but the skills to interpret that data and translate it into actionable “next steps” lag.
- The quality of content being produced by enterprise firms and its usefulness to the intended audience is still an issue. In the effort to keep up with the perceived demand for content, are brands ultimately hurting themselves?
- In order for content marketing to produce on scale, processes for its creation, management and promotion need to improve dramatically. Ad hoc processes, improvisations, manual workarounds, and unorganized networks of freelancers still plague even the largest brand content marketing efforts.
- Promotion strategies and efforts do not get the attention they need or deserve. Producing great content without an equal focus on its promotion is a waste of resources and a lost opportunity.
- So much valuable insight and potentially excellent content is present in the expertise and experience of employees. But it’s a challenge to get organization-wide buy-in and support for content marketing efforts that involve those outside of the marketing department. This must change.
- Adding to the challenge of getting employees to contribute content is the inadequacy of the tools currently used to communicate. Getting people out of Excel for editorial calendars, email/Word for review and approval and into process platforms where all can collaborate and share is critical.
Where did this group of experts land when it comes to the current state of enterprise content marketing? Still too early to say, but the current forecast is “cloudy” in their opinion.
Even though there’s been enough ad-hoc content marketing success over the last few years to prove its worth, content marketing must become a much more scalable, repeatable and measurable in the future in order to profitably affect business results.
So while John Deere’s legendary story-telling approach to content hasn’t changed in over a century, their long success with the brand magazine says that the marketing operation behind it probably has. That’s where content marketing needs to go.