E-commerce Link: Before a Brand Can ‘Act Like a Publisher,’ It Needs to Get Organized
From an operations perspective, many brands aren’t set up for content marketing. The challenge lies within a number of factors: For one, marketing departments tend to operate in silos, which prevents the creation of a cross-functional content operation.
The tendency of brands to take a long-term approach to budgeting or strategic planning also can create barriers for content teams that need to respond quickly to new opportunities. Other brands don’t have the right resources for content marketing because they haven’t been able to measure its ROI. And brands that don’t empower their internal employees to generate content or drive thought leadership will lack efficiency as publishers.
If a brand wants to reap the benefits of content marketing, it needs to organize for content.
Build a ‘Tech Stack’
Think of the functional requirements of content marketing as a three-tiered system, with content creation, curation and aggregation at the top; content optimization, analysis, targeting and distribution in the middle; and workflow, legal and compliance at the bottom. Each of these tiers, while categorically different, are interconnected and codependent as a system. They are the building blocks.
Your content “tech stack” — meaning, your content resources and tools — must deliver on each of these functions. How you build this tech stack, however, is largely dependent on where your brand stands today. That is, to what degree can your existing internal team manage these responsibilities? Which functions are you better off hiring for or outsourcing?
Once you’ve established your need for external resources, the next step is to find vendors that can fill these functional gaps. This includes creative agencies, video platforms, media companies, curation platforms, and a myriad other creative and technology resources. The content landscape is rich and complex, and your goal should be to find vendors that can best deliver on your content strategy.
Choose Your Model
To enable a systematic and strategic approach to content marketing, you need to adopt an organizational model that will govern your content operation. There are multiple ways to structure your organization for content; you’ll want to select a model based on your budget, capabilities and goals for content creation.
These three models represent different points on the spectrum, from low investment to high investment:
1. Center for Excellence: Serving as a go-to resource, the Center of Excellence can help identify and fill content needs while providing education and best practices to the larger organization. It’s led by a team of experts who serve as internal consultants for content creation and production.
This is the model that GE follows, given its small, centralized global marketing team and limited budget for content creation. The same is true for Diageo, which leverages its many agency partners to operationalize its content and uses a third party to execute its content.
2. Cross-Functional Chief Content Officer: In this model, a senior executive with cross-departmental authority oversees all content initiatives and sets a global content strategy for the organization. This executive has the expertise to align the strategic and tactical aspects of content, and may or may not have staff.
Case in point: American Express OPEN manages its content strategy internally, but outsources content production to agencies and media partners. Similarly, HP maintains a small, centralized content marketing team that creates content and works with external partners to curate and distribute content.
3. Content Division: Internally staffed and funded, the content division is responsible for developing, creating, disseminating and managing content. Like a publisher, it produces large-scale, high-volume content and tends to operate as an autonomous group.
Red Bull, for example, maintains a full-scale media department that is aligned to its brand. SAP also is organized like an internal publisher, with an editor-in-chief and freelancers contributing to the content production.
Once you've built the tech stack and selected your model, you can move on to outline a process for creating, measuring and disseminating your content. This five-step process will help streamline your content marketing and maximize the performance of your content.