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Border Skirmishes in the World of Content Marketing

April 21, 2014 | By Julie Ogilvie

Learn about the common trouble areas in content marketing and how organizations can enable cross-functional cooperation to create effective audience-centric marketing.

The ability of countries to coexist peacefully depends on a mutual understanding of borders and some level of agreement about what type of behavior is expected of good neighbors. The root of many conflicts is that participants hold such fundamentally different views that they can’t even agree on basic facts.

What I’m hearing from our clients these days is that this is often the case in the world of content marketing. Unless there is map of the process and an agreement on what is expected of all parties, neighboring functions are in a constant state of turmoil. Here are some of the trouble spots that content marketing folks should watch out for:

  • Product-centric product marketing. Content producers are generally reliant on product marketing for messaging, as well as an understanding of the market and buyers. If product marketing sees its role solely as producer of product-oriented content, this creates a big, smoking hole in the content development process.
  • A constantly evolving search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. Content that is rich in keywords and phrases is essential for SEO and helps to attract potential buyers to your Web site. However, if your SEO strategy is in a constant state of upheaval, your content team will be, also. Content production is time-consuming, and content needs to be in place for a certain amount of time for SEO to work. Changing your keywords every three months is a recipe for failure.\
  • Lack of communication with sales. In many organizations, marketing and sales are like neighboring tribes that view each other with suspicion and speak completely different languages. This age-old problem needs to be addressed in order to achieve a truly aligned approach to content marketing.

What can be done to solve the problems of the content world? This is a topic we’ll be diving into at our Summit in May, but here are some ways to get started:

  • First, adopt a map everyone can agree on. This is how many organizations are realizing immediate value from the SiriusDecisions Content Model, which defines the basic steps in the content process and the areas of interlock. At the very least, it is a starting point for the discussion!
  • Secondly, there needs to be some cross-functional governance – the United Nations of content, if you will. It’s much easier to make the content process work if there is an executive sponsor with the authority to make everyone play nice. But beyond that, there should be a forum for functional areas to collaborate. In some companies this is happening via content councils or editorial boards.
Finally, there needs to be an agreement on the basic need for audience-centric marketing. This may seem rudimentary, but many organizations still have not embraced personas as a building block of content. Defining personas can creates a common understanding of the buyer that naturally drives an aligned approach. Without personas, there is no single view to bridge all the participating functions.

How’s your company dealing with the need for cross-functional cooperation in the world of content marketing? We’d love to hear some reports from the front lines and, of course, any ideas you may have for creating a lasting peace!

Julie Ogilvie

Julie Ogilvie is a Senior Research Director of Strategic Communications Management at SiriusDecisions. She has held a variety of leadership roles in marketing and communications in her 20+ year career, for both B2B and B2C companies. Follow her on Twitter at @julieogilvie.

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