In all my years working in marketing — on both the client and agency side — there is one thing that has remained constant: Effective marketing strategies built on consistent, on-message components that complement each other and ladder up to accomplish a goal require teams of people who can operate the same way. Another constant: It is extremely difficult to build that pyramid when the strategy and goals require people to work cross-department and cross-team.
A recent Kapost study, B2B Customer Experience Benchmark, states that the top challenges/greatest barriers to creating an effective content marketing program (and this applies to all marketing initiatives — says me) are:
- Inefficient internal processes
- Inadequate data insights
- Lack of alignment across internal teams
Sound familiar? Yeah, I thought so.
Start at the Top
It would be super awesome to get everyone from all the departments and all the teams in the room when the decisions are made, but it doesn’t always work out. Most important? A unified front. It is essential to have unity at the top, and that steadfast commitment must be conveyed to everyone who will be involved. Things will never get accomplished successfully if the bosses disagree and secretly grouse to their individual teams. That creates dissension in the ranks — it’s like the military (or parenting). So all the key stakeholders (I know, I broke my own rule there) need to decide on the goal, divide up each respective team’s role to play, create a plan, and implement it.
Decide on Your Goals
Kapost’s 2016 Benchmark report (link above) reveals that the top three marketing priorities for most companies are:
- Lead generation
- Brand awareness
Those ring true to me and are generally what D Custom seeks to accomplish for our clients and ourselves. If you have not thought about your priorities, this might be a helpful starting point. The question now is: How do you get there?
Build Your Plan — and Share
The Kapost study found that 92 percent of companies that ranked as top performers when it comes to content marketing have “a shared editorial calendar for planning marketing initiatives.” Sharing information across teams not only creates consistency and eliminates redundancy, it also reinforces the idea that everyone involved is working toward the same goal — they are a team, not many teams competing to be named survivor. This should not be a blood sport. Kapost found that consistency across content is key to a successful content execution strategy — I would expand that statement to consistency across channels, collateral, and every component of your strategy. And the most important metric? Content conversions throughout the content experience. Some common elements of a successful content execution strategy are:
- Consistent across all content
Sound familiar? If not, it should.
Execute, Measure, Optimize, Repeat
So the powers that be have had a discussion; they are presenting a unified front and commitment to accomplishing a clearly stated goal, and multiple players are functioning as a single team — this is so exciting! Now the fun part starts: It’s time to create.
- Execute: This step is guided by the holistic plan and best practices for reaching your target audience through medium, message, and identity. Grab your messaging ladders, style guides, brand guidelines, and creative and strategic teams and let it rip. Make some amazing content, whether it’s blogs, infographics, videos, presentations, banners, ads, event collateral, brochures, etc. — or all of it!
- Measure: Measuring is guided by the holistic plan and best practices for tracking the metrics that matter. Knuckle down with your Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, Klout, and whatever other analytics are appropriate to see if you are accomplishing your goals and crunch some numbers! Gather some killer insights, make assumptions and recommendations, present them to your teams, and discuss what strategies you want to try. Having your whole team look at your results usually uncovers things you might not have seen — because everyone thinks differently and there is something to learn from all members.
- Optimize: Next, be guided by the holistic plan, best practices, and new strategies you have devised from tracking your progress and optimize! (Again, my apologies for breaking my own jargon rule, but this word actually does mean something in this context.) Try new stuff, make changes, try out your recommendations and discovered opportunities, and send your content out into the world. Mama’s gotta let go sometimes.
- Repeat: Guided by the holistic plan, best practices, and all you have learned, do as the Pantene bottle says: Wash, rinse, and repeat. That’s right — you get to start all over again with a solid foundation and a lot of cool new things.
Take This Away With You
- Senior management must be committed to a goal and an execution and stick together.
- Use goals-based decision-making when building strategy — the rest is just tasks and workflow.
- One goal, one team: e pluribus unum (share, people — just share — or I will take it away from you).
- Learn from your experience and be nimble and flexible — kill your darlings and grow.
- Apply what you learn and start all over again … TOGETHER.