Humans are not prone to reevaluating the way they think. Individual mentalities are fairly engrained in people, as much so as the pride they feel about their alma mater and their native land. When a better idea comes along, the challenge is not getting people to accept that it’s a good idea, rather to have them actually implement the idea for themselves. After all, despite the advancements of indoor plumbing, there are still 1.6 million Americans who still use outhouses .
Some thought processes are subtle while others are bold. Take the difference in marketing today compared with 20 years ago. In only a couple of decades the shift from traditional marketing to modern marketing is pretty remarkable, and not just the shift from print and television to online but also the available metrics via all platforms and the necessity to be more agile than ever now. Of course, many people and agencies didn’t choose to make the switch, and we know where they likely are now.
So what does a more subtle mentality shift look like? Let’s take a content first approach . Currently it is commonplace to look at the distribution channel then tailor content around each one. Wouldn’t it be more efficient to create content once and be able to use it on every channel your strategy requires? Over time, the efforts that you put into this channel first approach adds up to days and weeks eventually even months and years of extra effort. The money spent on proper software for a content first strategy would be a much better investment. Yet, that’s the kind of mentality change that is the hardest to implement. Not because it’s not a great idea, but because there is an up-front charge.
Our thought process, as it pertains to transportation, is that we can cover semi-long distances in just a short period of time. This was made possible with cars becoming prevalent over horses. When the Model T came off the assembly line in 1908 it sold for just over $18,000 in today’s money . Despite the costs of cars and transportation in general, there are millions of them on the streets. The mentality shift happened because it was obvious that there was a better way to get from point A to point B, despite the cost.
Marketing is already undergoing a fast evolution. Unlike transportation, the costs are actually lower per lead now than ever before , thanks to the ability to target and the capability to capture ROI down to the cent. As modern marketing becomes the norm the cost has slowly begun to rise. The costs are blindsiding many people because it wasn’t long ago that you could publish a thousand blogs and your SEO rankings would be incredible . Now, quality content is how companies rank higher on databases. Quality isn’t cheap.
Ever-increasing complexity has led to an explosion of demands on time for modern marketers. The need to meet customer and prospect demands for personalized information and perceived value, at the same time as managing the production and deployment of content across multiple channels, workflows and processes seems to increase daily. This growth of responsibilities has given rise to hundreds of new solutions to help cope. As a result, over half of marketers use between five and ten tools every day .
But continually adding new tools to your processes simply creates new complications - how to consolidate different channels, formats and iterations across separate systems for one campaign. But imagine instead if you could use one holistic platform to manage all aspects of your marketing in a centralized, accessible model .
Let’s explore how to overcome the difficulties of intricate software-driven marketing processes. Let’s challenge the norm and ask questions such as whether or not you’re doing things in a certain way because that’s simply the way it’s always been done. Are you able to see through the ‘white noise’ of marketing to decide what’s working and what’s not?
Just to reiterate, it’s time for marketers to rethink their processes. Marketing is already complex enough. We need to start making life easier now, while we’re still exploring what the next iteration of marketing is going to look like. So, how can we create better campaigns with less effort, and how can we make the most out of content?
The following five things need to be kept in the front of your mind as you delve into your content first mentality:
2. Customization and Translations Can and Should Be Done With the Touch of a Button
3. Marketers Need to Be Able to Access the Product Info of What They’re Selling
4. How to Communicate Not Just Effectively But Efficiently
5. How to Make Technology Work Harder and Smarter
Is there a way to transform, evolve and integrate marketing to provide every marketer’s dream scenario - a marketing platform that’s centralized, organized and streamlined in the way it supports the content, sales and product needs of the entire business?
As content has evolved from print to television to web the formula for best practices for marketing and advertising have gone out the window. Marketers look at TV ads and wonder how the expense can be justified while TV ad producers look at the cost per mil for ROI. Print ads today are more expensive than ever because the ad space has dwindled. Of course, there’s justification for every form of advertising, but it’s more important than ever to ensure that any piece of content that you exhibit, no matter which platform you use, has to be better than your competitions.
Channels and Data: The New Frontier
Marketers are more aware than ever that data is the main driver when making decisions. Your idea can be the most creative and awe-inspiring ever but if data shows that people aren’t clicking, viewing or responding positively to it then it doesn’t matter, data proves that it needs to be replaced. High priced ads are affected just the same as a Tweet or a whitepaper might be. Creatives can curse data but it’s not going away, so the best course is to have reliable data and use it to learn what your audience really wants.
Data analyzation is a challenge even when the data is right in front of your face. When it is located across different software platforms and data is pulled from various places, it’s not only harder to discern but also unreliable.
With the data that is now available engaging with targeted prospects is easier than ever. You know where they are, the channels they use to ingest your content and where they are also hearing from your competitors. In this new marketing frontier there’s no excuse not to do it right, so a platform to set you up for success is vital.
If you only get one thing out of this article…
The customer comes first. Especially customers that don’t even know they want to become customers. Content-first thinking could be interchanged with customer-first thinking. By leading with the audience, you’re stepping into the era of modern marketing where creativity, copywriting and analytics inform integrated campaigns that target an array of audiences across channels.
An integrated marketing platform means you can distribute unique cross-channel content without compromising your brand’s integrity. Rethinking the channel-first mentality allows you to nurture customers and leads across each network by ensuring that the content is created for your audience, not for the channel.
With such a wide variety of channels, the task of supplying top-notch content to each channel is an operational burden. The workload involved in tailoring content for each specific channel can be significant, an issue that’s exacerbated further if your systems don’t aid the creation process.
From Content Creation to Content Tailoring
Every campaign, every product launch and every territory requires content that has been customized and edited to fit the exact needs of the associated channels. Take a television ad as an example. It used to air at the time slot you paid for and run for a certain length of time, then it was done. Now, the commercial is posted to YouTube before it ever goes live on TV. It’s embedded in a press release, a blog and disseminated through a variety of social media channels.
It takes time to tailor content and create a number of complex versions and iterations for every single content theme - adding intricacy, additional resources and slowing down your underlying efficiency.
To add to your already ridiculous workload content needs to be more than just tailored for each distribution channel, it also has to be tailored for geographical areas and translated for different languages.
In a globalized world, you have the additional issue of localization and language translation . If your organization has multinational divisions, every piece of content will require fast and effective transcreation into the languages of your regional audiences.
You also need to be able to track how that content performs for an overall view of the value and ROI it adds - and to see in depth how each iteration performs against each other to identify strong points and weaknesses in the campaign.
Here’s an idea! Let’s make customization easier
With the aforementioned array of media, localized iterations and language versions to deal with, the creation and delivery of your content collateral must be seamless. An effective and consistent way of creating core content themes that can then be customized to each audience and location is necessary for modern marketers.
An integrated marketing system streamlines the consolidation processes and makes altering content for individual channels easy. By tagging and cataloging your content assets, your team can locate the collateral you need and synthesize the marketing materials for each separate territory or division in the simplest way possible.
With your content versions and channel-specific assets in one place, you make it easier to manage the publishing process, understand the relationships and track the end success and ROI for each campaign.
Product information is vital data for both product marketers and content marketers alike . Despite this, the departments and tools that each one uses often vary. When anyone outside of a product expert needs specifications it’s often not easily attainable.
Managing product information certainly isn’t easy. The bigger your brand’s product range, the more resource-intensive it is to control the data that needs to be recorded, logged and searchable.
The challenge to create a streamlined system for storing, retrieving and sharing product information becomes even more important to solve when you consider that your product is what makes your company viable.
Manage your data more effectively and your company more efficiently
The disconnect between departments is what tends to be the most obvious difficulty while trying to streamline previously unstreamlined processes. People tend to get used to the way they do things; to the software that they use and to the people that they work with. Although people will admit to inefficiencies, getting them to become more efficient is the true challenge.
The most effective solution to getting people to change their habits is to force them to do it. It doesn’t make sense to buy software just for the sake of doing something different though. The right software should be a single source solution that allows interdepartmental sharing. If everyone at the company is using the same software it solves several issues…
1) Collaboration – Sure, collaboration between product marketing and content marketing makes sense. Some departments, though, you might not consider need to be able to collaborate, but in some cases, with simply the ability to do so you might find a need you didn’t know was there.
2) Searching – Collaborative or not, everyone needs access to some things, such as company policies, expense reports, and training documents. Good software doesn’t limit what goes into the centralized platform. If everyone at the company knows where everything is there are no more excuses about not knowing something.
3) Training – If everyone in the company is using the same system then training costs will inevitably go down.
The right software guarantees that stakeholders across the business can easily access the product information they need. A designer will be able to source high-resolution product images for a printed marketing flyer, while a sales manager can draw on the technical specs for the same product when talking to a prospect - keeping messaging clear and consistent.
How to improve access to the right information
To improve your product information’s accessibility, making your technology work harder and with a more relational approach to your data is imperative. This means evolving your systems, improving data-sharing and adding greater search functionality, as well as using relational tagging and tracking so everyone in the business has fast, simple access to the product information and assets they require.
Moving your marketing across to a centralized system brings these functions together in a core database that’s accessible to everyone, and linked to all relevant functions within the business. This integrated approach drives the efficiency and reach of your search functionality, providing marketers, sales teams and managers with the information they need, whenever and wherever they need it - always with a context-rich backdrop of linked information, comments, client feedback and campaign details that relate to each product.
The growth of online and digital information has created a cloud of ‘marketing white noise’ , with so many different channels that consumers find it hard to keep pace with the speed and volume of information coming their way.
The key is to know your target audience in sufficient depth that you can reach them with the content and channel which match their communication preferences - and don’t require them to sift through cross-platform messages.
The benefits of a broad marketing mix
Research shows that the modern customer wants to choose when, and where, brands communicate with them - and expect a message that resonates with their own interests and needs.
The challenge for marketers then is to use the channels available to you to communicate with your core customers in the most effective way possible.
By taking the best of online, digital, social and print, you give your audience that most important of things - choice. Rather than forcing an ever-growing stream of information down a one-way street, you allow the customer to choose the content and communication channel that fits most closely with their information needs. For example:
• An effective ecommerce site allows you to draw on a deep understanding of the decision-making process to guide the audience through the purchasing process.
• Print is a key part of retention - for some audiences, it carries greater credibility and authority. The ubiquity of digital media has turned weekly or monthly publications into welcome opportunities to disconnect (and, unlike a website, gives marketers that rare thing: undivided attention).
• Social media channels provide an exceptionally powerful way for your customers and prospects to connect with you and become an advocate for your brand. When combined into your multi-channel approach, social becomes a valuable driver of engagement and campaign impact.
How to communicate effectively across multiple channels
What customers want is value. But what that value comprises differs from industry to industry, and customer to customer. It’s therefore vital that you achieve a rounded, well informed overview of your audiences and build a detailed picture of the varied customers your brand targets.
An integrated marketing system allows you to create, collate and publish multiple different versions around a content theme, and to target this content to specific channels and specific audiences. Customers expect marketing to be on their terms, and this allows them to choose the channels that resonate most to them - meaning you reach your audience in more value - and results-oriented ways.
Over time, marketers have increasingly looked to technology solutions as a way to manage the mounting complexity of multiple marketing channels, tailored content and audience targeting . And that’s producing a seemingly ever-growing tide of marketing tools and software solutions.
However, when you have multiple software systems linked together, your overall process is only as strong as the weakest link in that chain. This limits the effectiveness of your campaign production as a whole, and does little to solve the inherent problem of complexity.
Dealing with the issue of complexity
51% of organizations are using 20 or more digital marketing solutions. As your marketing department has grown, you’ll have amassed a wide range of software tools to help you meet your core tasks, including:
Digital asset management (DAM) systems to collate your brand’s digital content.
Product information management (PIM) systems to centralize the product-related technical and marketing information.
Web content management systems (CMS) systems to streamline your content creation.
Marketing resource management (MRM) systems to plan, budget and manage your marketing campaigns.
Customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems to record and manage your customer details, sales interactions and relationships and manage the financial and production side of the business.
Marketing automation systems to embed automatic scheduling of content publication and follow-up processes for marketing activity.
That’s a complicated array of tools to use on a daily basis. By keeping these systems separate you run the risk of a number of different business issues, such as:
Different working methods and user interfaces (UIs) across departments.
Steep learning curves and detailed education requirements for anyone using these tools.
A lack of integration and data-sharing between systems.
Data assets spread across multiple unconnected platforms, adding to the manual workload needed to deliver your campaign
A complex and inefficient feedback process when content is being edited, reviewed or optimized for publication.
Multiple log-ins and passwords to remember.
In this instance, complexity only leads to confusion and inefficiency.
How tech can be made to work harder
Tech must be at the center of marketing; this means making that tech work harder is vital. Software can automate the bulk of the more administration-related tasks, as well as improving the way your data and assets are connected and accessed.
A central marketing system helps remove the complexity, integration issues and learning curves of using multiple, separate software systems. One unified interface for your team to learn and interact with increases confidence and makes the system more transparent and effective. And automation, centralized data searches and simple working practices mean your team gets the job done faster, with more control and a deeper level of customization for customer needs.
Content First = Integrated Marketing?
A content first approach doesn’t just happen. You can think content first all day long, but unless you have the software to execute it you’ll perpetually be working on extraneous content. With the growing number of online channels, and the rising cost of print production along with the amount of data being thrown at you from every angle, the only way to work efficiently is to have a platform that is able to automate a majority of this for you. Rather than a handful of software solutions that require different log-ins, function differently and pull data from various places, a better solution is to use one system for everything.
By enhancing your ability to tag and track every single asset and item of data, you build an easily searchable marketing database which provides information for not just marketing, but any department, such as product, who can enhance your marketing communications.
So, does content first equal integrated marketing? The answer is that content first is dependent on an integrated marketing solution.
By revitalizing your core marketing strategy, instead of letting your technology solutions and multiple-channel choices overwhelm you, you’ll see how a centralized system such as a digital asset management system , gives you the tools and flexibility that allows your marketing team to achieve success that before wouldn’t have been dreamed of.
What is so striking about the idea of content first thinking is the simplicity. This is common sense, yet finding a single solution to make your life easier isn’t what you spend your days doing, likely because you don’t have the time to do it and because you’re not thinking in such a manner.
A mentality shift is normally an evolution rather than a rapid decision to embrace a new idea. Since marketing is already amidst a major evolution, the time is ripe to quit the archaic approach to content and actually put it in its rightful place of importance, first. After your content is created then you can strategize on the plethora of channels you want to disseminate your content to.