Do You Have a Content Marketing Culture?

According to research from the Content Marketing Institute, 63% of B2B organizations are very committed to using content marketing, but a large portion – 78% – rate their content marketing efforts as being, at best, only moderately successful. If you count yourself in the second group, take some lessons from those who are ahead of the curve and create a content marketing culture to enhance your success.

What is a content marketing culture? It is a customer-centric culture, encouraging collaboration and participation across every part of an organization and cited by experts as a must to more consistently achieve content marketing success. What's more, a content marketing culture is a surefire way to build on and support brand storytelling, drawing upon the knowledge, expertise and experience of every individual and division in your organization to create a unified program of customer-focused communications.

So, how can you ensure your company’s culture is “content marketing primed?”

Start at the top – Educate the CEO and management team so they not only understand and embrace the value of content marketing but also recognize that a successful content marketing program requires an investment in financial, intellectual and human capital. Knowing that senior management is on board makes everyone, at every level, realize that content marketing is integral to the organization.

Be customer-centric – Flip employees’ thinking to focus on creating content that meets the needs and demands of your customers. Develop brand stories that tie your products and services to solving your customer’s biggest challenges or address new trends rather than generating self-promotional materials.

For example, Salesforce does a great job reinforcing its focus on its customers, and showcases how it helps them do the same. Featured on its website are stories from Yeti, Asana, T-Mobile and Farmers Insurance demonstrating how Salesforce, by streamlining information, enables them to spend more time focusing on and deepening relationships with their customers.

Line ‘em up – Creation of content in a helter-skelter way is less likely to capture or sustain attention. Once a content strategy is established and its business goals and objectives clearly spelled out, it's important to share this information with all employees to help them understand the editorial mission and how they can participate in providing meaningful content. Of course, the editorial mission may change over time, but be sure everyone knows and understands the current focus.

However, it's equally important to be flexible in allowing for employees and content team members to generate creative ideas. For example, at Coca Cola they recognize that some of the best content ideas come from keeping processes open in their content marketing culture. While they advocate sticking to content schedules, templates and other structured elements of a content marketing strategy, they will gladly deviate when creative inspiration strikes.

Know your assets – Some employees are subject area experts to be featured in your content, but every employee can bring something to the table, perhaps as a source for generating content ideas, writing a blog, or serving as a sounding board for your content marketing initiatives. Create a channel for ideas to bubble up and be shared across the organization and for unique skills and expertise to be identified and leveraged by the content marketing team.

Break down the walls – Facilitating communication across teams encourages new idea generation and sharing, with each employee thinking creatively about how to provide customers with meaningful information. For example, Segue Technologies has held content marketing workshops and put together infographics to educate employees on the content marketing process and how they can consistently participate. The results have been impressive, with web traffic increasing more than 3000% in one year.

Take ownership – If your content marketing program is running in “fits and starts,” it’s time to restructure or invest in a few new hires to identify a fully dedicated content leader or, even better, to create a content team. This individual or group can serve as the repository for all content ideas, facilitate information sharing across groups, and ensure that all content marketing initiatives and materials are in line with the current strategy.

While the concept of a content marketing team makes sense, it is a relatively new idea and most teams are still trying to find their place in the organization, according to a 2017 survey by Conductor. The survey also found that teams typically have an average of two to four members, and more than a third do not have a senior content marketer in place.

Recognize and reward – A smooth-running content marketing culture not only offers measurable ROI, it also helps to create a more engaged and committed workforce. Be sure to recognize individuals and teams who have made important contributions to the organization’s content marketing efforts. Determining that a specific initiative has generated substantial results, such as increased web traffic, social chatter, or other ROI is, of course, cause for celebration. But don’t forget that other types of contributions, such as facilitating idea sharing and communication across divisions, play an equally important role in creating a positive content marketing culture and also deserve recognition.

Remember that changing institutional mindset doesn’t happen overnight – and often takes much longer than hoped. But clearly focusing on and addressing the changes needed as quickly and adroitly as possible will move your company in the direction of a positive content marketing culture.