Contentwithoutborders was originally started to understand content marketing more clearly. Over time this blog has developed into a broader journey of self authored and curated content which focusses on the major and disruptive changes affecting marketing in more general terms. (see below the most important ones)
Technology is the game changer
Without technology, and more importantly without the correct use of the right technology, it will be impossible for our organisations to take true advantage of the digital revolution. See the article below by HBR which I consider to be a positioning paper on the role which technology plays in transforming modern marketing – Making marketing work
The ‘future potential’ for marketing is now driven by information, technology and content
Marketing has always been difficult to measure. This has been a global problem, and one which has caused a huge GAP to exist between marketing activity and proving the return on investment.
Today these frustrations are being gradually eradicated by cutting edge technology & software innovations which are making it possible to track and measure every step of the consumers journey across a wide ranges of devices and interfaces, including transitions between online and offline touch points. Here is a very informative document compiled by Abacus, which details the latest thinking on using the Shapley Value to determine the best content combinations, which is based on game theory.
In previous decades most marketing content was distributed across third party networks to third party audiences. This traditional marketing system largely prevented brands from choosing to develop their own audiences directly, and through their own customised media & marketing ecosystem driven by its own published content. Brands have been forced for a long time to fit into the restrictions and requirements of the traditional advertising system, but now all of this is changing fast.
Today brands are bringing agency skills in house in order to become producers of owned branded content. This content is being seeding online via a variety of first, second and third party platforms, and across a mixture of owned and third party audiences. Agencies are also under real threat for a variety of reasons. Here are three I think are important.
- Many creative agencies rely heavily on traditional marketing and media to make their money. This leads many agencies to suggest creative and media strategies driven by their own business model and not by the needs of the client. This results in a hugely inflated costing model for producing and distributing content, and it also results in agencies directing brands towards making expensive, award winning adverts, rather than really focussed on the ‘why’ of what they are trying to achieve for the client.
- Many creative agencies do not possess the requisite skills and competencies to provide a modern marketing solution. Specifically when it comes to using information (data) effectively, analytics and measurement. This skills GAP limits the potential for agencies to deliver an integrated and measurable solution.
- Many large agencies do not provide the value that they promise. You are one of many customers, your account is managed mid level account executives and you are billed for hours and not return on investment. Agencies that know what they are doing are starting to negotiate deals based on measured return on investment, which means they only get paid (and how much) based on the success of the project.
All of the above challenges have been made all the more acute by virtue of the fact that we live in a time where creative resources can be accessed globally at a drastically reduced rate than paying an agency. Using online resources like behance.net to contract specific skills directly is becoming more and more of a trend. For brands to be able to make this model work for them, the marketing team internally MUST have the requisite awareness, knowledge and skills to manage this way of working.
Today it is possible to track, influence and measure the impact of your content on consumers, at specific stages of the buying process, over time. This feedback allows you to test and retest different versions of content until you find the combination that works best in creating better engagement, better conversion rates, and which gleans more valuable data on your consumers behaviour (conscious and unconscious behavioural characteristics) as they interact with your brand. It is this technological ability which has completely changed marketing forever. Information & technology drive the process of optimising your content so that it achieves very specific goals in driving desirable consumer activity (engagement, leads, sales, data collection) across the buying journey.
Information and the way it is being collected and used is shaping the future of all marketing communications, but more than this it is shaping the growth curves for brands in the future.
Everyone is talking about big data. This describes the various forms of information that is collected from a range of consumer activities across the purchasing journey. This information can then be processed together to inform a deeper and more holistic view of the consumers you wish to target, what they like, and how best to target them. Previously much of this data was not available, or it was stored separately, and the technology certainly didn’t exist to process it constructively. This paper by Bernard Marr will give you a great insight into the potential of data 4 things BIG data can do, and 3 it can’t by data-informed.com
There are 3 different types of data that can be collected on consumers. They are:
First party data – owned information about the customer based on your direct interactions with them over time – this would include customer service information, telephonic interaction, survey data, purchasing information, owned content data from websites and publications
Second party data – this is consumer information obtained and collected by your strategic partners and from within your network. This would include data collected by other organisations within your group of companies, service providers, and research partners.
Third party data – This data is all publicly available data which can be purchased or leased and sits within government and private consumer research bodies and departments. This includes third party media broadcasters and networks.
The overall goal is to overlay these different data sets and achieve a more insightful and complete view of the consumer from a digital behavioural point of view, a view which will be trusted more and more as the method of predicting future content patterning that will work best in driving whatever conversion metrics your brand is pursuing.
Here is a great article from the CMI which I see as a positioning paper on this incredibly influential topic called Data as Personalisation, turning kryptonite into treasure!
Content and what it can achieve has radically changed
Content has become a very diverse offering from what it used to be in traditional marketing. Its nature and form has diversified into so many different ways. The primary thing to remember about content is that your audiences have a preference that MUST be followed. What kind of content works best for them, depending on what they are doing or focusing on, and how do you create mirror content experiences which fit within this consumer expectation.
Content must be relevant to consumers worldview and interests
Content must reflect the consumption habits of your targeted consumers
Content must be seeded and distributed based on consumer preference
Content must be useful to the consumer when they engage with it.
Content must be focussed to drive specific actions during each phase of the buying process
Content must be measurable
It is clear that video content is by far the most popular form to use online. However this is not always true because it depends on what content forms and formats your customers like.
All of these topics will continue to be the primary influences that will continue to mould and shift the practice of marketing into a much more scientific and process driven animal.
All of these changes are radical and can achieve great things for your brand. However, without a supportive senior leadership team and organisational culture you will battle to get the right solutions in place. This is a key. Here I refer to the HBR article I provided earlier on in the article. Making marketing work
Why is organisational culture and leadership a major factor in your organisations ability to adapt to these major changes?
For those of you out there who cannot understand why your organisation cannot seem to achieve successful change, despite trying new strategies every year to do so, you can be sure that the problem is something to do with your organisational culture and its leadership.
‘The way we do things around here is not supporting the clear strategic need for new thinking, feeling, acting and doing’.
This is not peripheral ‘hocus pocus’ either, despite what many may poo poo and dismiss as the fluffy stuff called culture. Organisational culture and how it affects everything else runs to the very core of what makes organisations succeed or fail over time.
Lets also be clear that making profit alone does not constitute success or failure in and of itself. This belief is short term and very limited in its potential to build truly successful organisations that endure and mature. Success is different, it is about the longer term journey that an organisation takes as it experiences and responds (or reacts or denies) to the changes of the environment in which it operates.
The culture of your organisation is either something you consciously play a part in creating with the collaborative effort, vision and dedication of leaders, staff and even customers, or it is something which destroys your organisational potential and talent without you even realizing it until it is too late!
Does your organisational culture bring you down or enable you to climb mountains and take over the world?
Are you aware of what it is it or are you in the dark?
Not being aware of culture, and its enormous power, and of its effect on organisational effectiveness and health is what will stop collaboration, innovation and an understanding of how to change, dead in its tracks!
Start talking about culture and start creating it consciously, productively and consistently, and in a way that responds to the needs of your people, your clients and your business environment! Without lowering the water-mark of organisational self awareness your organisation will be operating without clear values, positive leadership behaviors or an understanding of how to improve itself through its own intervention and development.
The next time you are wondering why things aren’t changing fast enough around here, if at all, ask yourself if your organisational culture might have something to do with it? The biggest influencers of this organisational culture are your leaders.
If you are not sure what your organisational culture is and what it requires from you or your leaders in order to flourish in this exciting time I would consider this the first warning sign!
Culture matters most of all because it defines who we are, how we do things, and most importantly why we do what we do (purpose statement).It also determines everything about how your organisation will handle change and how it is perceived externally.
How does your organisational culture make people think, feel and act and what could the possible impacts of his dynamic be on your organisational future?
Your organisations capability to adapt and reposition itself lies in the hands of your senior leadership team and in the overall organisational culture within which you exist. The companies that will reap the benefits of these changes are agile and adaptive.
The potential for marketing to develop into a powerful growth engine for brands is clear. The potential for our organisations to navigate their way through these major changes is less clear. In the fall out that occurs between one way of doing things and another, many organisations will be left behind, or will cease to exist altogether. It is the organisations that are agile and responsive to these changes that will rise to greatness in the digital revolution!
Please visit my ‘Key Resources’ page to find all the best insights and case studies into the rapidly evolving world of modern marketing