Fergus Stoddart
This is a post by Fergus Stoddart

Organisations looking to get into content marketing must be prepared for large-scale organisational change and a shift in culture says Fergus Stoddart, managing partner at Edge.

When you look at great case studies around the world, when you talk to people from organisations that have really got it, they talk about content being part of their DNA. A commitment to content needs to come from the top, and businesses must embrace it all the way through. That requires buy-in from your people. All of your people.

The Content Journey

In the Australian market we’ve come a long way from the days of content marketing meaning blogs. Most organisations are already on the content journey. They have a vision that one day they will be able to deliver truly engaging one to one content at scale.  In reality most are at the start of that journey. Research conducted by ADMA and the Content Marketing Institute earlier this year found 81% of Australian marketers are using content marketing in one form or other.

Despite budgets expanding, higher production content pieces being filmed and integrated content projects expanding across disciplines, local brands’ maturity as a content centric organisation is variable.

Only 30% of Australian marketers would describe their content marketing efforts as being sophisticated or mature. Developing a content strategy that is well-documented, well-distributed, and well-adhered to across all departments, across all teams, across different products and services continues to be a rarity.

Most are starting to develop content strategies but typically it’s at a departmental or customer group level. In many organisations, people are creating a regular flow of content, building libraries and thinking about how audiences should be segmented, but not necessarily in a sophisticated structured way that connects across all brand activity.

Content and the many organisational stakeholders

Clearly when implementing a successful content marketing strategy, there are many stakeholders to consider. You've got the CRM team, the sponsorship team, both the above-the-line agency and the media agency, the eCommerce team, the brand team and the social media team. The list goes on. These departments have to work together to ensure the content strategy is consistent all the way through the customer funnel. And that’s just on one company division.

We’ve recently completed a project with both AAMI and Lendlease creating an overarching content strategy, organisational & brand story framework and processes that allows all divisions departments, products and audience groups to function as story tellers. Much of the time and effort in creating this framework came not through the strategic thinking but through a structured stakeholder engagement programme that raised the profile and importance of content and content marketing and worked through the data, tech, processes and resources required to create a truly content centric brand from the leadership team downwards. This included workshops that demonstrated the number of fascinating and inspiring stories that are surfacing day in day out and not getting captured. We shared the content examples that touch customers at all points of the customer journey but that could be pulled all the way through to the final point of purchase and beyond.

For the types of conversations required to make this happen, an organisation needs to be on the front foot and embracing a content-centric future. Content, you could say, is fluid. It seeps into many divisions which means embarking on a content marketing project is more dynamic than most businesses are currently set up for. Ultimately, it’s about the people. It’s a culture piece that extends far beyond the content team.

Education is required to teach other departments how content can be utilised to their advantage.

We talk about content being the glue in a customer experience. That requires integrative thinking, shared responsibility across teams, disciplines and product services from the top down but the most important element in your content strategy, without question, is your people. Unless you have buy-in at every level, you’re setting yourself up to fail.