Perfect alignment? How content marketing gets all your people acting in concert
According to a new report by the Content Marketing Institute, a good content marketing strategy does more than engage with customers — it fosters stronger relationships within your internal teams, too.
Thanks to your content marketing, your audience have a well-rounded, broadly accurate view of who you are and what you do. They like the way you’re helpful without getting in their faces; you’re on their list of sources when they need information. And your flow of articles, blogs, infographics and slideshares means you’re always marking the route as they trundle down the customer journey.
But there’s another plus to a great content marketing strategy: the effect it has on the people within your walls.
In a new report by the Content Marketing Institute, 81% of top content marketers enthuse about how a documented strategy does more than energise customers.
They believe it brings teams together within your organization, uniting them around your common goals with a sense of shared purpose. And for today’s business model — lean, stripped-back, focussed on core competencies, where what you stand for is as important as what you sell — and that can only be a good thing.
This blog looks deeper into those research findings, teasing out why the right content marketing plan affects your insiders as much as your audience… with some follow-up ideas for applying them.
Perfect alignment: five tips for extending your content marketing strategy inside your organisation
1. Just have one!
According to one William Gates Senior (father of the Microsoft founder) “90% of success is simply turning up”. The same seems to hold true among content marketers. A major factor in successfully aligning teams around a documented content marketing strategy was… simply to have one written down!
8 out of 10 marketers surveyed believed having a documented content marketing was critical to getting all their people on the same page.
Of course, you’ve got to make sure that strategy is out there, visible to and understood by all departments and teams. That means writing it not in marketing-speak, but in plain language.
Think the Gettysburg Address, or Churchill’s “Fight them on the beaches” speech — a clearly communicated statement of what you plan to do, without faff or fluff.
65% of top names had a documented strategy. Just 14% of the bottom feeders did. Why not join that 65%, by sieving your all-points-covered content marketing strategy into a single sheet of A4 and distributing it around your office?
People work smarter if they know what they’re working for. And of course it encourages them to chat over the cubicle walls — always useful for getting everyone on the same page.
2. Get C-Suite buy-in as a non-neg
The report supports a second factor for building interdepartmental bonds: backup from management is non-negotiable. Ideally the whole C-level — CEO, CIO, CFO, CMO, and certainly CXO if you’ve got one — but at the very least you need one or two of the organisation’s leaders on your side.
92% of the best content marketers had commitment from the corner office, against barely half (55%) who considered their content marketing subpar.
Who to start with? Go for gold: the CEO. A huge proportion of companies take on the ‘personality’ of their leader: think how much Steve Jobs shaped Apple, or Jamie Dimon feels like JP Morgan. It’s no coincidence both these leaders were known for walking around and talking to junior staff, constantly getting a feel for what’s happening on the ground.
3. Think communities as well as content
Despite the term ‘social media’ entering its teenage years, most companies of all stripes still limit their content marketing efforts to email (87%) and educational content (77%). That’s great as far as it goes — but turning communication into more of a conversation has even more positive potential.
Just 23% of content marketers use community-building to engage customers (if you want more on community building, we’ve got a guide for that).
Imagine opening your written strategy (and even your draft content) up to discussion across your corporate network — inviting questions and having discussions with people from all departments and job functions. Just as communities of customers arise spontaneously around products and services, simply letting people comment on your marketing goals can reveal deep insights about your corporate hive mind.
And who knows? Maybe the janitor or canteen cook is the source of your next brilliant content marketing idea. Great concepts can come from anywhere.
4. Talk WITH people, not AT them
Related to #3, you probably already realize that shared understanding between people — whether they’re project teams, everyday workmates, or lifelong friends — isn’t a one-off event, but a process maintained over time, in a to-and-fro of snippets and anecdotes.
It’s something your top sales executives have always known. Go with them on a sales call, and you’ll notice they hardly seem to do any ‘selling’ at all. They’ll spend vast chunks of time asking about the customer’s family, sports interests, their new car or their daughter’s school report.
Too few marketers are talking to customers to understand their needs directly. (Just 42% according to the CMI’s report.)
So why not take a leaf out of Joe Salesman’s book — and treat your internal communications as more friendly chat than pronouncements from on high? Just as customers respond to someone they feel is on their level, employees across your organization will feel engaged, intrigued, even flattered about joining a conversation as an equal.
It’s not necessary for everyone to agree; your company, whether it’s three people or 300,000, can present a unified face to the world simply by understanding where everyone’s coming from. So make sure you’re in that 42%, then go further — because when your people are in alignment across silos, your company looks like a coherent whole. Both to customers, and to itself.
5. And remember there’s a business case
Leading on from #4, don’t forget there’s a real hard benefit to all this warm-and-fuzzy stuff. Companies where all staff sing from the same hymn sheet tend to be more successful against their competitors. They’re trusted by customers, offer friendlier service, enjoy higher staff retention and deeper employee engagement. All this avoids what HubSpot’s Katie Burke calls a ‘can’t-do attitude’.
41% of top names see content marketing as a revenue centre.
So at budget time — preferably, before it arrives — make sure the board appreciates that a good content marketing strategy isn’t a cost; it’s an investment. An investment with genuine, quantifiable ROI to the organization. (A final stat: 68% of good content marketers stated it helped them allocate resources more efficiently, to optimise their results.)
You probably already have a business case for content marketing to your target audience. But there’s a great case to be made for sharing that content internally, too.
That’s the takeout thought — rather, it’s our takeout thought — of the CMI’s B2B Content Marketing Report. Content marketing isn’t just for customers. Every shred of shared understanding, every feeling that you’re on a mutual mission within your company … builds credibility and comfort among your broader audience.
The CMI’s statistics suggest content marketing is a great way to align your teams around your goals with greater energy and purpose.
- Content marketing can excite your employees as much as your customers
- Simply having a documented content strategy is a great first step
- Most of your competitors aren’t using more than email and web pages
- Turning communication into conversation creates a sense of shared enterprise
- C-Suite support can supercharge the effectiveness of content marketing/li>
- Content marketing is a soft skill, but it can deliver hard results
Find out why Deloitte’s CMO agrees with this article and why she argues that staff need personalization as much as your customers. Read The Future of Content Marketing: 10 interviews with leading CMOs on the trends they’re using to disrupt in 2019.
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