“Content is not new. Advertisers have used content for years.”
We hear that all the time, and it’s true. TV, radio, print, direct response, events, promotions, etc., are all forms of content. So why are we talking about content as if it’s something new? Why launch an enterprise content marketing (ECM) practice today and not 30 years ago?
To answer that question, we have to go back to what may someday be remembered as the single most important day in advertising history: the day the iPhone launched.
On that day in 2007, consumers began a mass migration to mobile. Nine years later, billions of people spend more time on mobile devices than they do on any other device, including TV and computers. Unfortunately for advertisers, “traditional” digital ads don’t always work as well on mobile devices as they do on the web.
Think about it: All of those people on the elevator with their noses in their phones aren’t trying to ignore you. They’re trying to get stuff done. They’re searching for answers on Google, reading restaurant reviews on Zagat, uploading photos to Facebook, and catching up on the latest news. People who are “on task” don’t want to be sold. They need to be helped, or informed, or educated, or entertained.
We’re not saying that content is going to kill banners, any more than we’d say that the web will kill TV or TV will kill radio. We are saying that in this age of mobile, all smart marketers should make ECM part of their mix.
In order to recapture people’s attention, advertisers must get out of the ad space and into the content space. But it’s not about the kind of interruptive, “break-through-the-clutter-at-all-costs” content that advertisers are used to creating. It’s about helpful, useful content that enables people to get stuff done—the kind of content publishers strive to create.
Of course, even helpful content is not a new idea. John Deere launched The Furrow, a magazine created to help farmers, in 1895. But that was one brand out of thousands. This is the first time in history that most consumers are unreachable to most advertisers much of the time. It’s the first time in history that nearly every advertiser is interested in content.
That is why we weren’t all talking about content 30 or 50 years ago—because back then content was not mission-critical to the success of all marketers.
Most Marketers Lack A Content Strategy
As a result of the consumer migration to mobile, many–if not most–advertisers have experimented with content, usually in the form of one-off articles or videos that are designed to tell a story or convey a point of view. Some advertisers have even created entire sites or experiences dedicated to storytelling.
Still, even the most “evolved” content marketers struggle to connect the dots between storytelling and sales. While logic would have brands believe that consumers who engage with their stories are more likely to buy, most marketers are looking for proof that content drives sales. That’s where ECM comes in.
Enterprise content marketing is planning for the creation, aggregation, curation, syndication, measurement, threading, targeting, repurposing, and sunsetting of branded content that propels people through the purchase process. It’s planning strategically to create comprehensive experiences involving multiple forms of content that generate awareness at the brand level and drive sales and loyalty at a product level.
It’s about repeatable processes or frameworks—almost like the movement of physical parts on a production line. It answers the following questions:
- Who will create or acquire content?
- Who will ensure it’s on brand and high quality?
- How will brands put the right sequence of content in front of the right people at the right time and in the right place during the purchase cycle?
- Who will determine the effectiveness of content?
- Who will be responsible for creating a test-and-learn environment that ensures marketers continuously learn about what does or doesn’t work?
- Who will make sure content is hidden from view when it is no longer relevant?
More than just storytelling, ECM is strategic business building.
The Risk Of Enterprise Content Marketing
The risk of ECM is that your organization is so siloed that the thought of coordinating content efforts across corporate communications, brand marketing, product sales, product distribution, and customer loyalty seems impossible. Frankly, for some brands it may be impossible.
ECM’s time has come, and it’s exactly what CMOs need to reintegrate their marketing efforts. Brands have reached a point where storytelling at the corporate level is not enough. They know that content works, and their goal now is to coordinate their content efforts across their enterprises to drive not only awareness, but also sales and loyalty. Are you ready to bet big on content? I’m betting the farm, and so should you.