Why Your Entire Organization Should Live Your Content Marketing Strategy

Do you feel you have a great content marketing strategy? Do you feel like it depends on you alone while the rest of the organization hardly notices it? This is one of the biggest mistakes in content marketing today!

I was involved in quite a few great content marketing projects and I know a lot of even greater ones. But some of them have had a fatal flaw. They may be awesome, I mean, seriously complex and awesome projects, but they’re just that – strategies.

Content marketing should be integrated with other marketing and business projects of an organization, not an isolated island. It shouldn’t be about tool/mediums employed, but about producing, owning, and leveraging content.

Most importantly, it should be about education; teaching not only prospects/customers, but also everybody within the organization! That’s the ultimate recipe for success!

Case # 1: A big financial institution hired a content marketing agency to help them set up a content marketing strategy. The institution has a really bad reputation in public. Its new strategy was innovative and should bring great results and a lot more positive image of their services in public. Honestly, it was a jaw-dropping project.

The project, however, was supported more or less by only a few senior managers, executed by a small department in the company, and it was kept alive by only one branch in one city. On the other hand, nothing (significantly) has changed within the company as a whole; it still operates like the project never existed. Only a handful of employees know/live it.

The corporate culture hasn’t changed, the public image of the institution and their services keeps deteriorating. Moreover, customer service for the most part continues to suck!

So, there’s this huge amount of money that goes into this otherwise tremendous project, bringing abysmal results. Not because the project itself is flawed, but because it didn’t change anything within the organization.

“Content Marketing is owning, as opposed to renting media. It’s a marketing process to attract and retain customers by consistently creating and curating content in order to change or enhance a consumer behavior.” Joe Pulizzi, Content Marketing Institute

As Joe says, “In short, instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent. The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty.”

I think we should update this definition (I’m not good at writing them). I’m not the first to think so, there are dozens of posts out there talking about how support for content marketing within the organization is crucial.

The above definition should be updated in a way that includes the following: content marketing goals should include changing/adapting the corporate culture and customer service. Everyone in the organization should be part of it, should live it, not just a few. What is the point in having a great, content rich website and/or blog and/or customer magazine and/or profiles on social media if your customer service continues to suck or be ignorant of your content marketing strategy?

Case #2: A telecommunications company produces a really good customer digital magazine. However, they haven’t changed their customer service a bit! So, what have they achieved with the mag exactly, save it being great and spending a lot of money on it?

Case #3: A retail company produces a great customer print magazine. But they have no clue how to leverage it; like learning more about their customers… Their case tells me they don’t know what their business goals are, or how to do business. They’ve recently changed their senior management and it seems like they don’t understand why they should continue publishing the mag. Their website, though “renewed”, is clinically dead. What a waste, right?

The examples above remind me of what I witness every week: “We want a blog!” “We are thinking of a magazine.” “We want a Facebook page.” “We want to redesign our magazine!”

It’s all about tools/media, rather than content. My next question is: “Why?” “What do you plan to do with it?” After we talk, they start to think differently.

It’s been said so many times, but it needs to be said so many more times: it’s not about tools, rather it’s about content and how you can leverage the content.

Content should become your asset! Internally and externally!

It may not happen overnight. As much as you need time to attract attention of your (prospects)/customers, the same applies to your employees/business partners.

My experience is that when I get invited by a company to help them build a content marketing strategy (usually I deal with small companies), I am listened to by their senior management, I get their almost unconditional support and we start working together. However, it takes time for the rest of the company to follow suit. Which is totally understandable. That’s why I also advocate a step-by-step strategy, not all-at-once strategy.

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What is your take on all this? Please let me know in the comments below!

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  • Nenad

    Hi Jennifer, congrats on a new career and challenge! Let me know how it goes! I’d be interested to read about your experience! Just remember, it takes time and patience. Thank you for the comment, Nenad

  • http://twitter.com/martijen Jennifer Carroll

    Nenad ~ In a couple weeks, I will begin a fresh career adventure as coordinator of inbound marketing for a regional medical center. I know this organization well; I worked for its PR team as a freelance writer for more than a decade. However, this position and this approach to marketing is brand new to the hospital. Your article reminded me that the potential to fail is very real if I don’t focus on internal buy-in, as well as exceptional content and social strategy. Thank you! I pinned the article as a reminder.

  • Nenad

    Hi Sonja, thank you for your kind words. I was so worried about this post, so you made me feel better. :) But yes, it takes time. For example, it is such a joy to see employees of one of my clients embracing after a lot of months what we actually do. Every email I get from them directly, not via their boss, an email of encouragement or ideas what we should write next, is simply awesome. So slow approach is a must. That’s what every agency should explain to future clients, it’s not only about channels or even content, it is so much more. Thank you, N.

  • Nenad

    Hi, Krista. Thank you for your comment. I was having a hard time writing this, I thought I wasn’t clear enough, writing, rewriting. Sometimes we complicate things too much. So, it’s nice to see that some got through the post. :) I totally agree with you. I think what you’re saying is similar to what teachers should do in schools. Not looking for mistakes and things they don’t know, but what ideas they come up with, what their strenghts are. And as Marcus Sheridan likes to say, content marketing is about education first! So, your addition to the post makes total sense (of course:). But the question is when and how to start involving everyone. I think Sonja below makes some excellent points about this. Thank you again. N.

  • http://twitter.com/KristaKotrla Krista Kotrla

    Hi Nenad! I am huge fan of this >> “Everyone in the organization should be part of it, should live it, not just a few.” That requires great leadership and genuine belief in your team. The companies getting content marketing right make sure to align all three of these areas: strategy, culture and leadership.

    The one point in your article that I see a little bit differently is instead of saying it’s all about “leveraging content” I’d say it’s really about leveraging the gifts and talents of all the people on your team. Companies need to see people as their greatest asset. With great leadership, your people can (and should) be helping inspire your content, sharing your content and living out what is promised in your content. It’s all about leveraging the gifts and talents of your people… it just so happens that content marketing is an effective way to do that ;-)

  • http://twitter.com/SonjaJefferson Sonja Jefferson

    That’s a very good post Nenad. In our experience it takes time too. Content marketing works with top team buy in, and it inevitably takes time for the enthusiasm to percolate through the organisation. There will always be some naysayers at the start: this is a very different approach to traditional forms of marketing (soft sell vs. hard ball propaganda) and it will rub some people up the wrong way. It also takes time for the results to come, but come they will. Strong leadership and patience will win through, and when sales start coming n the critics are converted. Very often we find they turn into the best advocates (and bloggers) in the end.